Students’ strength in Government Primary Schools (GPS) has come down drastically with some schools having not even a single student. There are 252 primary schools in the Union Territory--161 in Puducherry, 66 in Karaikal,15 in Yanam and 10 in Mahe region. While the English medium schools in the UT had witnessed a spurt in the number of students, most of the Tamil medium schools are running with student strength less than 10.
It is shocking that students’ strength in 11 schools in Puducherry is less than 10, while in 31 schools there are no students from class III to Class V and in 60 schools the strength is less than 50. Similarly in Karaikal region, 36 schools have student strength below 50,while 17 schools have no students from class III to class V and seven schools have strength below 10, according to information obtained under Right to Information Act by P Raghupathy of Rajiv Gandhi Human Rights Awareness organisation.
There is a steady decline in the number of students in Tamil medium schools in both urban and rural areas in Puducherry and Karaikal.
In GPS Kottapadi in Karaikal there is not even a single student. But the school exists with one teacher and two non-teaching staff and government has to shell out `43,000 per month for providing salary to them. There are other establishment costs as well.
The other schools which function with less number of students are GPS Patchur (5 students), GPS Konnakaveli (7 students)and GPS Keezhaparuthikudy (8 students).
The scenario is no better in the Tamil medium schools in Puducherry region. GPS Odaively in Ariyankuppam has only nine students. The government is running the school at an expense of `85,780 per month towards salary alone.
Similarly, in Chinna Veerampatinam, there are 11 students with no students in LKG, third,fourth and fifth standards. For this school, the government is spending Rs 80,664.
At the same time, English medium schools in this region are doing better. The GPS Kalapet has 237 students,GPS Muthialpet-214 students, GPS Pethuchetipet-201 students, GPS Thattanchavadi-360 students. The trend is similar in rural areas also. GPS Maducarai has a strength of 282, Karayamputhur with 320 students and Karikalampakkam with 265 students.
Parents prefer to enrol their children in English medium schools. This trend has been triggered indirectly by the government, when the government started providing its employees reimbursement of tuition fees of their wards. The new scheme implemented in compliance with sixth pay recommendations provides reimbursement of tuition fees for two wards up to `15,000 per student per annum. Soon after the implementation of the scheme, parents with lower and middle income started admitting their students in private schools.
The mushrooing of private schools especially in rural areas have also added to the trend. What is distressing is that the cash-starved government is making double expenditure for a single cause. While it is spending on running its own schools, it is also encouraging its employees to admit their wards in English medium schools.