CHENNAI: The State government’s decision to retain kindergarten classes in schools instead of moving them to anganwadi centres as announced would increase the requirement for primary school teachers to nearly 7,000, said officials. To put the shortage in perspective, there are more than 3,800 primary schools that have only one teacher for classes 1 to 5, sending up the teacher-student ratio to 1:80 while the guideline mandates 1:30.
There are 22,831 government primary schools in Tamil Nadu with a total student strength of more than 16 lakh. Of these, more than 3,800 schools have only one teacher to handle classes from 1 to 5. About 80 per cent of them are in Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupattur, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Salem, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, and Tiruvannamalai districts.
A senior official from the School Education Department told DT Next on condition of anonymity that teachers for primary sections have not been recruited since 2014-2014. “With vacancies rising every year because of retirements, the number of primary school teacher vacancies now stands at 4,863,” said the official.
Now, with the government going back on its decision to shift LKG and UKG classes to Anganwadi centres, the vacancies will rise by at least 2,000, said a senior official from the Directorate of Elementary Education, admitting that it would be difficult to recruit now as the academic year is starting on Monday.
This seems to have directly affected the quality of education in primary schools. “Due to this, Tamil Nadu slipped to the 27th position in Performance Grading Index (PGI) on learning outcome and quality in the list that was released by the Ministry of Education recently,” said the official quoted first.