THE Grant-in-Aid Code (Appendix LL, Chapter VIII, Rule 52) is a thoughtfully detailed document that goes into all aspects of setting up a school. It says on:Selection of site
"Sites should not be selected if its natural position is in a hollow or in the neighbourhood of high trees, or houses that prevent the free circulation of air and access to sunlight... . Sufficiency of space is important, and, in this connection, the possibility of future expansion should be kept in mind... . The neighbourhood of dusty and noisy roads and shops and factories should, as far as possible, be avoided... . The soil should be particularly retentive of moisture... . All site plans should show the nature of surroundings, the height of the neighbourhood buildings and direction of the prevailing wind."Orientation of buildings
Floor space: The minimum requirement is 9.53 sq ft per student for elementary schools and 10.65 sq ft per student for secondary schools.
Composition of floors: The floors should be made of materials that can be washed. Stone flagging can be used if classrooms are provided with benches and desks. If students have to sit on the floor, stone floors need not be insisted; they should be provided with boards or mats to take care of the cold floors. From a hygiene point of view, the mats must be kept "scrupulously clean".
Seating arrangement: After providing a detailed design for desks and arrangement of dual and single desks inside the classroom, the Rules state that seating without a backrest or desk is objectionable.
"Students are required to be seated in rows with the main light falling from the left side and they should never face the light." This rule applies to teachers also.
Desks and seats should be such that the student is able to sit straight while writing and be able to lean back for reading "without any danger of a pronounced curve of the spine".
Distances between the desk and the seat of one student and between the seat and the desk of the student sitting behind are detailed. The idea is that students should be able to get up easily and also be able to move about freely in the room. Even the dimensions of the desk are prescribed for each class.
Windows: "They must be placed at regular distances to ensure the uniformity of light. Window sills should not be more than 12.2 dm (decimetre) from the floor in rooms where students are seated on desks and between 7.6 dm and 9.1 dm from the floor if students are sitting on the ground. Windows should not be less than one-fifth of the floor area and wherever possible the principal lighting should be from the north."
Doors: "Should not open into one another but only into passages or verandahs. No classroom should have more than two doors and in most cases one is preferable. The door or doors should be at the teacher's end of the room."
Height of classrooms: In the case of elementary schools, the height of the room should be 10 feet (3.04 metres) to the bottom of the beam in the case of sloping roof, and 11 feet (3.35 m) up to the underside of the roof slab in the case of terraced roof (G.O. Ms No. 1454, Education Department, 17-8-64). This rule was included after a roof collapse at the Saraswathi Vidyasala Higher Elementary School at Maninagaram in Madurai, which killed 35 children and injured 137.
Interestingly, while in the cases of secondary schools and training colleges, the height has been given for single- and double-floor buildings, for elementary schools, the height is given only for a single-storey building.
Ventilation: Unless windows reach the top of the wall and are capable of being opened, ventilators are necessary near the top of the wall. "For each student 48 square inches of open ventilator should be provided."
Dimension and fittings in classrooms: "It is important that no classroom should be more than 7.30 metres in width as otherwise the rows of the students will be too long to be properly controlled by the teacher."
"The dimension of a classroom should not exceed 7.30 m by 7.6 m."
"Ample wall for blackboard space should be provided on the teacher's end of the room which should be unbroken by doors, windows or cupboards."
"Rails under the cornice for hanging maps, pictures and diagrams are essential."
"The smallest classroom for 40 students with dual desks should be 6.4 m wide and 7 m long."
Roofs: As far as possible roofs should be impervious to heat.Sanitary arrangements:
"Latrines should be placed no nearer than 12 m to any school building. They should be so situated that the prevailing wind does not blow from them in the direction of the school building."
The number of latrines should be as follows (the toilet seats to be provided for girls is more than the urinals to be provided for boys):
For girls numbering less than 30, two; 50, three; 70, four; 100, five; 150, six; 200, eight; 300, 12; and 500, 20.
For boys numbering less than 30, one; 50, two; 70, two; 100, three; 150, three; 200, four; 300, five; and 500, eight.
In addition, there should be urinals for boys at the rate of six compartments 51 cm. wide for every 100 boys.
While this is the standard set in 1956 for schools in Tamil Nadu, the schools Frontline visited in and around Chennai were found to be in violation of most of the rules. In fact, the officials of most schools were not sure if the Rules were still applicable. This is because it is not a statutory provision but merely a set of conditions for schools to be "recognised" by the competent authority.