Class strength: Where are we?

There are CBSE schools in Kollam that comply with the 1:35 teacher - student ratio
Kochi: It’s been an open secret that certain CBSE schools have jacked up their student intake as their only source of revenue is the fees they collect. Though parents and students find themselves at the receiving end, they choose to suffer this in silence. But by and large, most schools adhere to the rules.
Many schools in Thiruvananthapuram have a student strength of more than 35, the stipulated number, in a class. Thomas Mani, vice principal of Christ Nagar Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram, however, said the school had less than 40 students per class in the ICSE section to avoid stress. In the international school attached to the institution, the student strength was lesser.
Thrissur has many schools with a strength of 35 per class and a few that touch 50. The strength is the same from class one to class twelve as students once enrolled in a school continue there till Class XII or if a student or two leave the school, their seats get filled by other students.
“A classroom is a complex place where students need individual attention and hence number matters,” says C.A.Francis, principal, Salsabeel Central School, Mundur, Thrissur. “Individual attention in both academic performance and the child’s natural curiosity and comfort level in the classroom are more important. As a teacher for the last 35 years, I feel that student strength in a class should be between 30-35”, he said.
There are CBSE schools in Kollam that comply with the 1:35 teacher - student ratio. But there are a few which breach this and go to the extreme, thereby hampering a proper learning experience.
“The most important thing is the efficiency of the teacher in handling the students. Continuous and comprehensive evaluation is done using various assessment techniques. The students differ in their skills and are assessed on the basis of debates, group discussions and related activities”, said Deepa Chandran, principal Sabarigiri Residential School in Kollam.
Most of the classes have multiple divisions and according to the teachers, managing students beyond 40 is a difficult task.
When DC went to one of the CBSE schools in Kalathipady near Kottayam, a teacher in charge of academics said that in most of the classrooms, there were more than 40 students up to Class 10. However, in Plus-One and Plus-Two, the average number of students would only be 30 or 32, he said. A total of 2,000 are here from Class One to 12, which consists of 42 divisions, a senior teacher said.
Asha Philip, director of The Letterland School in Alappuzha says they just don’t want to be a school with difference, but a school with a purpose. The classroom strength doesn’t matter. “We have set up guidelines to reinforce our vision in make learning a holistic experience”, she said.
Meanwhile, Vijayasree, vice principal of Maria Montessori English Medium School, Ambalappuzha, said subjects should be taught with hands on experience and interactive sessions in classrooms. This would also make learning enjoyable and bring the best out of the children.
Usha Venkitesh, founder of Brightland Discovery School, Alappuzha, says the number does matter. Most of the CBSE schools in Kozhikode district are currently running with an additional strength of more than 35 in each class.
According to Murali P., faculty at a prominent CBSE school in Kozhikode, students in the classroom itself are divided into different cores as per their capabilities. “In addition to the remedial classes, we conduct mass and personal counselling for students by which we try to dig out their issues as much as possible.
But concerned with the crowding in classrooms, Sheeba Anuraj, faculty at a Christian missionary institution in Kozhikode said: “Often due to the swelling number of students, we find it difficult to give them additional care”.
Meanwhile, as per the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the pupil-teacher ratio in schools should be 30:1 for classes from one to five and 35:1 for classes from six to ten. The ratio for high school is being applied in the case of classes eleven and twelve.
According to Indira Rajan, general secretary of the Kerala CBSE School Management Association, no school under the association functions with a strength of 55 or 60. “However, the association has no power to insist on this. We know that 80 per cent of nearly 1,300 schools under the association function with a below 40 student strength. Moreover, the CBSE makes periodical inspections to make sure that schools adhere to the rules,” she said.
According to Maya Mohan, principal, Chinmaya School, Vaduthala, Kochi, and chairperson of Kochi Sahodaya Complex which comprises 60 CBSE schools from Ernakulam district alone, a strength of 50 is a strict no-no and none should go to such an extent. “Most of the schools under the Sahodaya cluster maintain a strength of 35-40, but Sahodaya does not have any powers to insist that this strength need to be maintained. But we advise them in this regard”, she said.
Maya Mohan said that schools have to keep a balance between their income and expenditure which forces them to increase the student strength.
( Source : team dc )
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