"People pay taxes of many kinds to the Tamil Nadu Government and should therefore enthusiastically admit their children in government schools and benefit from the free education provided in the government schools," says the Tamil Nadu Primary Teachers Association (TNPTA).
In a press release, Abdul Majeed, an office bearer of the Association said, "Parents must come forward to admit their children in government schools offering free education. All these schools have excellent teachers. In addition to providing free education to all students, the Tamil Nadu State Government also provides 4 pairs of free uniforms every year, a nutritious meal with an egg and a banana every day, free text books and notebooks, a free cycle and also a free laptop computer. Parents must make full use of all these benefits available to them."
To drive this message home to parents, 100,000 leaflets emphasising the necessity and the benefits of admitting children in government schools are being distributed to the public by the Tamil Nadu Primary Teachers Association.
The way the statements have been phrased by the TNPTA suggests that the government school teachers know something that the rest of the public are unaware of. But the actions of the government school teachers speak much louder than their words and the people are only too well aware of the implications.
Over 73% of these very same government school teachers in Tamil Nadu have chosen to send their own children to private schools and not the 'excellent' government schools that they themselves teach in. This data has been painstakingly collected by Mr. T.K. Chandrasekaran by filing RTI applications with the District Education Officers in each of the districts in Tamil Nadu.
The initiative by the teachers to promote education in government schools is probably arising out of a fear of losing their jobs if the exodus to private schools continues unabated*. The teachers need to ask themselves why parents are shunning the free education in government schools despite the attendant benefits of free uniforms, free books, notebooks, a free cycle, a free laptop etc.. When people perceive that the quality of education is poor, all the other freebies are irrelevant.
But the teachers know this only too well. By choosing to pay out of their pocket and educate their own children in private schools, the teachers are clearly acting in their self-interest. Nothing wrong with that - in fact, they are doing the right thing by their children. There is no way they can prevent the rest of the people from acting in their own self-interest - the teachers are fighting a losing battle.
* The 2011 ASER Report provides data on the trend of increasing enrollment in private schools in rural Tamil Nadu.The corresponding figures for urban Tamil Nadu are likely to be much higher.