The Corporation is identifying existing teachers and giving them continuous training to handle the English-medium classes

Charts with Tamil alphabets and English rhymes hang next to each other in an airy classroom. The roll call on the blackboard is written in English.

A group of five-year-olds who joined the civic body-run primary school in M.G.R. Nagar last week huddle around the teacher and fill the air with alphabets.

As the headmistress of the school talks about parents’ interest in sending their children to English-medium schools, the chorus of English alphabets resonates down the corridor.

“This year, most of the new admissions in class I have been for the English-medium section,” she says.

According to a Chennai Corporation official, English-medium sections have been introduced in 99 primary and middle schools, this academic year. “All primary schools have one English-medium section in class I,” the official says.

The school has English-medium sections in classes I, II and III. “Parents come asking for English medium instruction,” the headmistress says. This year, the school has 35 students in English medium and 26 in Tamil medium in class I.

In class II, all the 98 students learn in English, and in class III, 84 of the 126 students have opted for English medium though Tamil is a compulsory subject.

“Teachers went for canvassing around the neighbourhood in March-April, distributed pamphlets and created awareness about the facilities at the school,” says the headmistresss.

R. Vimala who handles the English-medium section in class III at the school says, almost all the new students in her class come from private English-medium schools. However, in some Corporation schools, Tamil is still the preferred medium of instruction.

The headmaster of a higher secondary school in north Chennai, where English is offered as a medium of instruction in classes VI and VII, says, though most of the new admissions in his school are for Tamil medium, the number of those seeking English-medium instruction has gone up from last year.

“With more awareness, more students may opt for English medium,” he says.

Heads of a middle and primary school in central Chennai say their English-medium sections are getting filled up faster than the Tamil-medium ones. But there are some challenges, they admit.

“Though the response to the English-medium sections has been good, it is too early to say if it has significantly improved enrolment in the school,” says a headmistress, adding it is challenging for some of the teachers too.

At one of these schools, all the new admissions in class I this year have been for the English medium.

“It’s becoming difficult to find enough students for the Tamil medium,” she says.

A Corporation official says they are identifying existing teachers and giving them continuous training to handle the English-medium classes.

“We also have an MoU with Tech Mahindra to train teachers,” the official says.

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