Vysarpadi school lacks just about everything, but its students are an enthusiastic lot

The Chennai Higher Secondary School, Kalyanapuram, Vysarpadi, which was upgraded last year from a high school, has 23 students in its first batch of class XII. But there is not a single teacher to teach students of Classes XI and XII.

Enquiries with students of different classes revealed that the school is yet to get a full time headmaster or headmistress this academic year. “One of our senior teachers is in-charge,” said a student.

Though it has been almost a month since the school reopened after vacations, the time-table for classes XI and XII is not ready. “The Tamil teacher who teaches class X comes whenever there is a free period. There are no full time teachers for English, Tamil, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. We try to go through the textbooks ourselves,” said one of the class XII students.

Asked how the batch managed to clear their class XI examination, a student said that most of them borrowed notes from students going to other schools in the vicinity. “We cannot afford tuitions,” said a student. Parents of most of the students are daily wage labourers.

The batch has been performing well academically – with its pass percentage in class X being 80. This year, the pass percentage in class X dropped to 51 per cent.

The school also has a host of problems related to basic infrastructure. It has no laboratory. The toilets are not in usable condition. Boys use an open space nearby, while girls said they usually waited till lunch break to go home. “If it's very urgent, I go to a public toilet a few metres away,” said a Class VIII girl.

The school does not have drinking water supply either. Students and vendors nearby whose children also go to the school said often, antisocial elements entered the premises and caused trouble.

According to N.Thangaraj, coordinator, Slum Children Sports Talent Education Development Society (SCSTEDS), who has been working in the area and with the school, the school is a picture of complete neglect.

“We train some of the children in football and we know the challenges they face. In fact, a group of class XII students met Corporation officials a fortnight ago and told them there were no teachers. The officials promised to post teachers in two days, but the students are still waiting,” he said. The failure to appoint sufficient teachers and a headmaster in the school basically violates the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, says Aruna, manager (development support), Child Rights and You (CRY), an NGO which partners SCSTEDS for intervention in the school.

An eager lot

The Class XII students, despite such odds, are an eager lot, with most of them hopeful of making it to engineering colleges in the city. “We hear that toppers of Chennai schools get laptops and fee waivers. Even if we get teachers by August, we will work very hard and do well. But we cannot manage without teachers,” said one of the teenaged boys, his optimism intact.

When contacted, Mayor M. Subramanian said teachers would be posted very soon and that he would look into other issues immediately. The Corporation, he added, had constructed a new building for school a few years ago.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012