Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's announcement regarding uninterrupted electricity supply to government schools offered some hope in the context of the two hour power cuts but institutions are awaiting clarity.
The government has promised to arrange for generator sets, if it is unable to avoid power outages for schools, and will also compensate government-aided high and higher secondary schools and private schools for hiring generators. “The government has said we can hire generator and that it would reimburse the expenditure incurred on diesel for these generators, but we have not received any information on the wattage, where we can hire or who will reimburse the expense,” said the head of a higher secondary school. One of the classrooms in the school, even with a tube light on, looked like it could do with some more light. “Till now we had power cuts for an hour but from today it has become two hours,” said a class IX student. “We really don't know how we'll manage this month. Without lights, some of the classrooms get quite dark and it is not easy to hold a class' attention when it is dark or stuffy,” said a teacher at a Chennai Higher Secondary School. He is not alone. Several hundred teachers across schools share the same anxiety. According to a senior official in the School Education Department, there are nearly 55,000 schools in the state. “We have only been asked to give details of the total number of schools. It is the Energy Department that will have to decide on the procedure for sourcing generators,” the official said. However, attempts to reach senior officials of the Energy Department proved futile.
School heads are worried as the class X practical examinations begin mid-March. “We have requested for uninterrupted power supply during the examinations. Our local body has promised to help us,” said N. Vijayan of Zion Matriculation School.
Until alternative arrangements are in place, some students might have a difficult time in the classroom. “When we don't switch on the tube lights, the light from outside falls on the black board and those seated in the side rows will not be able to see anything,” said a class VIII student of a Chennai Middle School.