They will be merged with nearby ones, says Mayor

Closure of more schools run by Chennai Corporation is now on the anvil as these schools, plagued by poor enrolment, will soon be merged with those nearby.

At the Corporation Council meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Sadai Duraisamy responded to a special call attention motion tabled by councillor of ward no. 110 K. Chandrasekaran on the declining number of students in Chennai Schools.

“We will identify schools that have less than 25 students and merge them with other schools without affecting the students,” said Mr. Duraisamy on Wednesday.

According to the Mayor, the Corporation had merged 18 schools between 1999 and 2004. In the period 2009-2010, 34 schools were merged with nearby ones. Four more schools were merged during the following year. As many as 56 schools had been merged between 1999 and 2011.

Mr. Duraisamy attributed the decline in enrolment to the resettlement of residents from various slum localities. More resettlement is likely to have a significant impact on Chennai Schools. He also pointed to the rise in student enrolment in private English-medium schools near such neighbourhoods because of parents’ higher aspiration levels.

“Initiatives including smart classrooms and play parks are expected to improve enrolment,” said Mr. Duraisamy.

In 2009, the Corporation merged around 30 schools that lacked patronage, sparking protests by political parties. The decision to close some of the merged schools was then reversed. Chennai Schools in Chintadripet, Thousand Lights, Chamiers Road, and T. Nagar were among those that were merged with nearby schools in 2009.

During the previous merger, the civic body had said the vacant school buildings would be utilised for achieving educational goals, especially among low-income groups. However, most of the vacant buildings are not used for the stated purpose.

A total of 284 schools — 122 primary, 92 middle, 38 high and 32 higher secondary schools — are run by the civic body.