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Tamil Nadu government to involve local communities in school management committees in an effort to improve standards in government schools

Published : Mar 15, 2022 15:34 IST T+T-
Minister for School Education Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi launching the School Development Project App during the Nam Palli Nam Perumai function at the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai on March 15.

Minister for School Education Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi launching the School Development Project App during the Nam Palli Nam Perumai function at the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai on March 15.

In a bid to get local communities more involved in the process of the education of children, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to convene a meeting of all parents and enhance their role in the teaching-learning process.

The meeting, which is scheduled for March 20, is but a first step in a series of measures contemplated to improve the standards in government schools, an Education Department official said. The idea is to revamp school management committees across the State, named the “Nam Palli Nam Perumai” (Our School Our Pride).

Setting up school management committees (SMCs) in all schools is also a direction in the Right to Education Act. Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, Minister for School Education, told mediapersons that school management committees have been functioning for some time. “We want to improve it with the participation of parents and community. We want to create awareness on why it is important to be part of the committee,” he added.

The school management committees, which “establish a strong linkage between the school and community and to develop a sense of community ownership among schools and the schooling process”, were being trained to take the role accorded to them seriously. This is the reason for the March 20 meet, where 52 lakh parents across 37,000 schools will participate.

Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi wants increased participation from women in the 20-member SMCs, special focus on the young age group children (6 to 14 years) so that any development issue such as a disability could be identified early. Already, as many as 200 coordinators have been selected to identify deficiency in infrastructure and other issues.

Realising that both the teachers and the parents need to be trained, the School Education Department has already taken up the task of preparing Heads Masters and teachers for the new management practice. All teachers will undergo the training in batches. Education Department officials pointed out that teachers were aware of the importance of SMCs and had informally involved groups of parents in problems related to the schools at various points.

There are great expectations from SMCs. These include: ensuring that dropouts come back to school; preventing child marriages, child labour, malnutrition, and so on; ensuring teacher-pupil ratio based on student strength; preparing school development plans and seeking ways to fulfill it in an era of low budgets; and raising awareness on student education and child rights.

Soon after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) won the 2021 Assembly election, the party said that primary education and the condition of schools would be looked at seriously and adequate funds made available. In line with this, Anbil Mahesh Poyyammozhi, in the demands for grants for the Department of School Education for 2021-22, said: “It is the primary objective of the State to provide quality, accessible and inclusive education to all its children, and to this end, the government has provided the highest budgetary allocation of Rs.32,599.54 crore for the year 2021-22 for school education.”

He continued: “The focus of the government in school education will be to ensure that enrollment of all school age children is achieved in total, to ensure complete retention of all enrolled children right up to the secondary level, to bring drop-outs to zero, to improve the learning outcomes among children as appropriate to their age and level, to empower teachers by effective and useful training, to leverage the power of technology in the teaching-learning process, to provide foundational literacy and numeracy skills to all students, to improve basic amenities in schools, and to equip children with new-age skills and to ensure their safety and wellbeing, especially given the new-normal set by COVID.”

Regardless of the party in power in Tamil Nadu, school education has received significant attention. In the last All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime, K.A. Sencottaiyan initiated a series of measures to enhance the teaching-learning experience in the context of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) being made mandatory.