Chennai

Project to makeover Corporation schools hanging fire

The damaged Greater Chennai Corporation Higher Secondary School in Kalyanapuram, Vyasarpadi.

The damaged Greater Chennai Corporation Higher Secondary School in Kalyanapuram, Vyasarpadi.   | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Government yet to give nod for proposal, which follows a drop in student strength

Chennai Corporation’s proposal to give a makeover to all its 281 schools at an estimated cost of ₹200 crore is hanging fire.

As the government has not given its nod for the full funding, there has been a steady deterioration of the structural condition of classrooms, affecting education of poor students and increasing dropouts at an alarming rate.

The proposal to give a makeover to all corporation schools last year was made following a drastic reduction in the student strength, which fell from 1.3 lakh to 85,000 in the last decade. The makeover was expected to increase the number of students in more than 168 Chennai Corporation schools which have been registering a dip in the student strength over the past ten years.

Students from 60% of the Corporation schools have reduced in number in the past few years, with parents transferring their children to private schools. However, over 113 Corporation schools managed to buck the trend, attracting students even from private schools, primarily because of the hard work of the teachers in these schools.

Last year, the Chennai Corporation proposed to give a makeover to all the schools at an estimated cost of ₹200 crore. The infrastructure of schools was proposed to be changed completely, utilising cutting-edge technology, modern smart classrooms and making the buildings more attractive, airy, spacious, well-lit and well-ventilated after the makeover. But the State government is yet to give its nod for the funding of the entire project, officials say. Instead, the Chennai Corporation is planning to take up just three schools in each of the three regions for the school makeover project. As a result, less than 10 of the 281 Corporation schools will receive a makeover by the beginning of the next academic year in June, officials point out.

Former Corporation Councillor S.Mangala Raj said many of the corporation schools have been damaged because of inadequate security personnel. “Anti social elements gain entry into the schools during holidays and in the nights. If the State government is unable to fund the project, the Corporation should at least permit banks to set up ATMs near the gate to promote safety and security on the premises. If ATMs are set up, video surveillance and police patrol may improve,” he said.

“We used to increase the height of the walls of the schools to prevent entry of anti-social elements into the premises of corporation schools. We stopped increasing the height of the walls after many residents died in wall collapse of various schools in neighbourhoods of north Chennai,” said a Headmistress of a Corporation School.

Parents of Chennai Corporation school students have been demanding better toilet facilities, clean drinking water supply and better classrooms.

Classrooms in many schools in north Chennai are small when compared to the government norm of a dimension of 20 feet by 20 feet. Over 25 Corporation schools are yet to get the right size of classrooms with a width of 20 feet and a length of 20 feet.

“Our school is constructed on a small piece of land measuring four to five grounds. The road is 15 feet in width. The school is located in a slum to cater to the poor residents. Giving a makeover to such schools with small land parcels is a challenge,” said a teacher.

Urban planners stressed on the need to give higher Floor Space Index and relaxing other planning parameters for such buildings to accommodate the new architecture, which has been proposed in the makeover project. Corporation officials said they will start work on makeover of the schools after a pilot project shortly.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:08:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/project-to-makeover-corporation-schools-hanging-fire/article30603005.ece

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