The Tamil Nadu government, which on Tuesday postponed class 10 board exams to June 15 after the initial plan to hold them from June 1 to 12 was opposed by parents and educationists, now faces a fresh challenge.
A recent survey has revealed that over 2,200 class 10 students from migrant families in Chennai city alone may be going to miss the exams as they have left for their home states during the lockdown.
A senior official of the Greater Chennai Corporation, who is privy to the data on students in schools under the corporation, said most of the missing students were from Rajasthan. “Others are from Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal and other Tamil Nadu districts. It seems all of them left the city during the lockdown. The school managements have not been able to reach their parents and the ones they could speak to have said they cannot return within a month. We are helpless, many of these students are not going to come back,” the official said.
Chithra, mother of a class 10 student at a corporation-run school near Mandaveli, said she sent both her sons to their native village near Vikravandi after the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 was announced. “We live in a single-room house. There are six members, including my husband and two children of my elder sister. We were worried about their safety, so we sent them to the village. With no public transport, there is no way to bring back my son for exams now,” said Chithra, who works as a domestic help.
The headmaster of a corporation-run school said all these missing students from migrant workers’ families are enrolled in Tamil medium schools. “Tamil medium schools are filled with children of poor labourers who migrated from other districts and states. Many of them are erratic in class as they often go to work with parents. If they do not return in a month or two, this crisis is going to bring down the number of children in Tamil medium schools,” the headmaster said.
Incentives to government school students, such as free textbooks, uniform, mid-day meals, free bus passes, free bicycles and laptops are one of the reasons children of migrant labourers enroll in state government-run schools despite Tamil being the medium of instruction.
According to the revised schedule, about 9.5 lakh students are to appear for class 10 exams from June 15 to 25.
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