Teachers of a 165-year-old government-sponsored high school in Hooghly’s Chinsurah have been reaching out to guardians of potential students to showcase its infrastructure and additional learning benefits in a bid to convince them to admit their children to the institution instead of private schools.
The authorities of Garbati High School, established in 1860, took the decision to save the institution with a sterling legacy.
One of the oldest schools in the district, it was once overseen by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar as school inspector of the area.
However, the school has witnessed a steady fall in admissions to Class V in the past few years. Parents preferred to send their wards to private English-medium schools in the area, school sources said.
“We witnessed a steady fall in the number of students taking admission to our schools and a large section of them are joining private English medium schools. We have increased infrastructure like organising classes with LED monitors and starting additional English classes for the students to help them learn the language. Our goal is to convince the guardians to admit their children in our school as we can provide quality education,” said Koushick Chakraborty, the teacher-in-charge of the school.
“The school was earlier named Garbati High English School as its medium of instruction was English. The word English was dropped in the 1970s. We are also trying to open an English medium unit of the school to attract guardians who are interested in educating their children through the medium of English,” he added.
According to a teacher, the school used to have 125-150 students a year in Class V till a decade ago. This year, the number is 25.
“Last year 40 students were admitted to Class V. This year the number has gone down to 25. It is a threat for the school. The government can merge this school with another school if the trend of admissions continues,” said a teacher of the school.
The teacher said that private schools, especially English-medium ones, had mushroomed in the area, attracting guardians.
The teachers on Saturday went to a local Kanakshali Primary School on Saturday where they met at least 50 potential guardians.
The teachers gave a presentation to convince guardians why they should admit their children to Garbati High School.
“The teachers showed videos of the school, its classrooms, activities of students. I am impressed and will admit my son to Garbati High School,” said Priyanka Sikdar, mother of a Class IV student at the primary school.
The headmaster of Kanakshali Primary School, Proloy Debgupta, appreciated the effort of the teachers.
“The presentation made it clear to our guardians why they should avoid the mushrooming private schools and admit their children to schools like Garbati High School,” Debgupta said. Several academics and researchers praised the move of the school authorities citing that many of the state-run schools in both Calcutta and districts have been facing the similar problems.
“A lot of guardians started believing that government schools do not provide proper education to their children. As a result, well-to-do parents are admitting their children to private schools and the those from the economically weaker sections are choosing government schools. To overcome the crisis, teachers in several government-run primary and high schools are adopting such initiatives. I am happy to know about the school in Hooghly, where teachers are trying their best to increase infrastructure for better education,” said Kumar Rana, a researcher who was part of a statewide survey on the learning abilities of primary school students during the pandemic.
The teachers of the Chinsurah school have also contributed from their own pockets to raise a fund to build better infrastructure in the school.
“We have 22 teachers and each of them are contributing Rs 500 a month to enrich the fund for betterment of the school. The fund from the state government also helps us in this connection,” said Chakraborty, the teacher-in-charge.