COIMBATORE: City Corporation commissioner S Ganesh was on an inspection to corporation schools when he found that a Class 10 student at a civic body run school struggled to read the word 'teacher'. There are two papers of English for Class 10 board exams.
The incident during a casual visit to Selvapuram corporation school on Friday has thrown light on the state of English teaching in corporation schools. The school in question does not have a permanent English teacher. According to the staff, the English teacher was transferred a few months ago and currently they had only one temporary teacher.
Keerthana of Class 11 was very upset with her English marks in her board exams. In her Class 10 board exam she got centum in three subjects and 99 in one subject but in English she scored only 77 because of which her total score came down. "English was taught to us by our social science teacher whose grammar was not very strong," she said. Keerthana is not the only one who suffered because her school failed to provide her with a good English teacher.
Even though corporation educational officer H Vasantha claimed that all schools had a separate English teacher, a visit by TOI showed that several schools had English teachers only at the higher secondary level. "We generally have an English teacher only for the higher secondary classes. The mind set of officials is that any teacher can teach English but that is not true," said an English teacher at one corporation school in the city. Another student of a corporation school near Puliyakulam said that their maths teacher taught them English. Some schools had only two or three teachers working on a daily basis. When Vasantha was contacted she said that most maths teachers got trained in English as well. "In 2006, the government asked us to appoint separate English teachers for Classes 9 and 10. In 2009, we got orders to appoint English teachers for Classes 6 to 8.
But activists feel that inspecting is one thing and taking actions on findings is another.
"Inspections are conducted regularly just for the record but do not take any steps to address the issues," said V Eswaran, MDMK, state youth wing secretary and RTI activist. "We have highly qualified teachers with us but the higher officials are not using them responsibly," he added.
Some teachers feel the rule established under Right to Education Act by the government to pass all students irrespective of their marks up to Class 8 is one major reason for the poor quality of education. "These students are well aware that they will be passed irrespective of the marks they score. How are we expected to groom them and get results," said a teacher of a corporation higher secondary school. Some teachers who struggled hard to help children feel another reason for the fall in quality is due to their home environment. "A student in my class is very bright. But her father is a drunkard who regularly beats her and even stabbed her once. From then on she has not been able to concentrate on her studies," said a teacher. The corporation and government school teachers are being trained to deal with the students. "The state of government and corporation school students is completely different from those in private schools. Their parents are not very supportive and are mostly uneducated," said Head Master of Selvapuram Corporation High School. This is another major reason for their lack of interest, she added. The state of rural schools was even worse. The teachers and head masters felt that if the students learnt only Tamil, they would feel they have achieved something. "Many students do not even know to read the places written on buses," said Head Master of a rural school. We wish the government brought in audio visual learning equipments and enhance the elementary education. Education should be made interesting for these children, she added.
Commissioner, S Ganesh said that he was unaware of the fact that several schools lacked English teachers and would look into the matter soon.