Kindergarten and English sections seem to be attractions among parents, say teachers of Chennai Schools, who have been canvassing to admit children to the Chennai Corporation-run schools. The civic body, taking a cue from private schools, began an early admission drive from April and has so far taken in 3,187 students.

“We normally get students only from June. They are children, who do not get admissions in private schools. But this year, we asked teachers to go to residential areas and talk to parents. Over 2,850 students of those who will be joining Chennai schools are joining the primary sections,” said Mayor M. Subramanian.

Teachers say parents also look for schools that have more number of classes so that the children can pass out from the institution rather than hop from one compound to another.

“We are getting 1-2 admissions on a daily basis. Siblings of children who are already studying with us are coming in for admission. But we will get more students in June when the academic year begins,” said a Chennai School headmistress.

Free uniforms, footwear, bags and textbooks seem to be factors that attract many parents. From this year, the civic body plans to distribute stationery items too. Toilet facilities are being improved in Chennai Schools and many of them will get bicycle parking lots.

There are some Chennai Schools that just get applications for admissions even without such canvassing. The Chennai Girls Higher Secondary School on Madhavaram High Road and the one in Choolaimedu and Chennai High schools in Sharma Nagar and Kolathur are just a few of them. However, everything is not as rosy as it seems on the admission front. Officials admitted that the strength in the primary classes has come down over the last few years. It was 59,000 in 2006 and in 2009 the number reduced to 39,000.

A recent study conducted by Loyola College said the system of Activity Based Learning had not impressed many parents, which was one of the reasons. Mr. Subramanian said that ABL was being successfully implemented in many schools. “It is a new system and parents do not know its strengths.”