CHENNAI: As more and more students are switching to government schools, many private schools are refusing to issue Transfer Certificates (TC), parents allege. The large-scale migration is a result of the pandemic, which caused numerous people to lose their livelihoods and the ability to afford private schools.
“The number of new applicants has doubled this year, especially in crucial years like Classes 9 and 11,” said the headmaster of a government school in Thiruvallur district.
Schools were shut in March last year, and students of Classes 1-8 didn’t even attend a single day of school physically in the academic year 2020-21. While urban and affluent private schools conducted classes online, small private schools - especially those in rural and peri-urban areas - didn’t have the infrastructure or trained faculty to do so. Many students didn’t have the technology.
Ganga, who works at a retail clothing store, has received no income for a year now. Her son studies in Class 8 at a private school in Chromepet. Ganga the salary of her husband, a pick-up truck driver, reduced by half in the last year.
“My son didn’t attend even a day of online classes. We told him not to as we couldn’t pay the fees. But the school refuses to issue his TC unless we pay the full fees,” she complained. Ganga added that she wants to enrol her son in a government school.
“The school wants us to pay Rs 31,000. How can we afford it?” she asked. An official from the Tamil Nadu Department of School Education said action has already been taken against some schools that refused to issue TCs. However, the action has been limited to students of Classes 1-8. The department recently said a delay in producing a TC can’t be grounds to deny or delay admission for children up to the age of 14. Further, the Right to Education Act says any child up to the age of 14 has the right to move from one school to another, and schools must immediately issue a TC. These children also cannot be expelled till the completion of elementary education (till Class 8).
But now, a large number of students in Class 8 and above are seeking to migrate to government schools. However, many schools are refusing to issue TCs until parents clear the fee. “The government should allow admissions without TC for older students as well,” said PK Ilamaran, leader of the Tamil Nadu Teachers Association, adding that government should allow integrating students into common pool of students in the Educational Management Information System without their TCs. “If we can add Class 9 applicants to the common pool with only their Aadhaar, then we’ll need no TC,” he said.