A headmistress of a government school in T. Nagar spearheads its revival. With a team of teachers, she visits slums to get students enrolled. K. Sarumathi reports
Jothi says she would rather be at school than anywhere else and if Sundays too were made school days she would be happiest. Such is the enthusiasm among students of Government Girls High School on Usman Road, T. Nagar, that they love coming back for more learning.
The teachers and the headmistress of the school are to be credited for creating an enjoyable atmosphere for the children. In recognition of their work and the school’s performance in the SSLC exams, headmistress P. Padma was honoured at the Collectors Office recently.
Faced with dwindling enrolment numbers and lack of belief among parents in government school education, the HM along with a team of teachers took it upon herself to get more students to join and went door-to-door to tell parents about the benefits of putting their wards in the school.
“From 2005 we were faced with gradual fall in enrolment figures. Numbers came to as low as 55 last year. So we decided to undertake a door-to-door campaign to persuade people to send their girl child to our school,” says Padma
Divided into teams, the teachers went to slum areas in Kannamapettai and Bharati Nagar and spoke to parents. The teachers also campaigned in their respective residential localities. “Students studying in government schools come mostly from marginalised sections. These schools offer the best of education free-of-cost and have qualified teachers too, but parents still prefer matriculation education. We told parents about all that we offer the students including free breakfast and evening tiffin, computer and tailoring classes, spoken English and other skill development sessions,” she adds.
The teachers also distributed pamphlets highlighting the achievements of the school. “Year after year, the school records over 96 pass percentage in SSLC exams and this year, it was 100 per cent. We make sure the children take their studies seriously and we have special classes till evening for standard 10 students and slow learners are given personal guidance,” Soumya, a teacher, says proudly.
Following the campaign, enrolment number has increased to 69 this year and the teachers are ready to start the campaign again for bettering it further. “Other government and aided school in the neighbourhood served as feeder schools for us as they only offered elementary education. Now they have grown and become high schools, so that is another reason why we don’t get as many students now,” says Padma.
On developing the students’ interest in learning, she says, “most girls who come to the school are first generation learners. We take extra measures to ensure they do well. We give them small perks such a packet of Horlicks if they pass in exams. Every Saturday, CTS volunteers come and take extra-curricular activities,”
The school wants to make students ready for the competent world, so it gives special importance to English. Retired Chief Education Officer L. Lekshmigandhan takes English enrichment classes for the students. Government schools have all the resources, but success depends on how best teachers and the students use them. The Government Girls High School in T. Nagar seems to have struck the right balance.