Aided schools await help from Tamil Nadu government – The New Indian Express

An average of 147 students study in each government school, while 338.5 students study at each aided school.
Published: 02nd June 2022 01:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd June 2022 01:58 AM   |  A+A-
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THOOTHUKUDI: Much has been said about the DMK government’s efforts to be a tower of support for government school students. However, the same assistance measures have more often than not eluded the students of government-aided schools, which also impart free education to the children from poor and marginalised sections of the society.

Tamil Nadu has over 37,211 government schools and 8,403 aided schools, which respectively impart education to 54.71 lakh students (65.79 per cent) and 28.44 lakh students (34.2 per cent). An average of 147 students study in each government school, while 338.5 students study at each aided school.
Moreover, the teacher-pupil ratio at government and aided schools are 1:23.7 and 1:35.63 respectively. Aided schools are mostly run by philanthropists or trusts.
While the school management looks after the infrastructure, the government provides salaries for the teachers. For a long time, the successive governments extended benefits equally to both government and aided schools undistinguished.
Tamil Nadu’s ‘welfare kit’, laptops, bicycles and noon meal scheme are also offered for the aided school students. But, the situation has changed with the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
There is not even a single mention of financially-supported private management (aided) schools in the 66-page NEP document, noted State Platform for Common School System (SPCSS -TN) General Secretary PB Prince Gajendra Babu.
“The NEP aims to weaken and gradually do away with the aided schools. The Tamil Nadu government, which emphasises social justice, should surely interfere in the matter and support aided schools, which mostly underprivileged students depend upon,” he said.
The disparity further widened when the State government refused to grant a 7.5 per cent reservation in medical admissions to aided school students, opined Tamil Nadu Primary Teachers Federation (TNPTF) State General Secretary Mayil.
“The Moovalur Ramamirtham Ammaiyar Higher Education Assurance Scheme, which provides monthly assistance of Rs 1,000, was extended only to girl students in government schools. Then, the aided school students were not included in the 20 per cent reservation in government jobs for Tamil medium students. They were also ruled out from the morning breakfast scheme,” he pointed out.
The 7.5 per cent horizontal reservation was brought in by the AIADMK government based on recommendations of the Justice Kalaiarasan Committee. “The panel had actually recommended a quota of 10 per cent. So, the State should allocate the remaining 2.5 per cent for aided school students,” Mayil demanded.
Representatives of several other teacher associations also said the benefits extended to government schools should also be extended to aided schools as the kids in aided schools also come from underprivileged backgrounds.
Sources from the Roman Catholic Church, which runs hundreds of aided schools in the State, told The New Indian Express that the State government had stopped releasing building maintenance grants for schools 10 years ago. “They also don’t grant approvals for appointing teachers in vacancies formed out of retirements, even though aided schools educate more than one-third of the total number of students,” he added.
A manager of a minority institution that runs over 100 schools across the State concurred and claimed that at least 500 teachers, who have been filling in for vacant teacher positions, have not received their salaries for the last many years. “The government has been objecting to appointments claiming that aided institutions were over-staffed. However, the government’s own reports state that the teacher-pupil ratio in aided schools is 1:35, which is much higher than that of government schools,” the institution manager added. Sources said the Right to Education Act mandates that each school maintain a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30.  
Kottai Shanmuganathan, attached to the 150-year-old Srivaikuntam Kumarakurubaraswamigal School, told The New Indian Express managements of many aided schools were willing to hand over their institutions to the government owing to the lack of policy-wise support from the State.
“Aided schools are not profit-making ventures. Crores of rupees have to be spent to build and maintain the infrastructure on par with the standards set by the authorities. We cannot afford all this,” added Shanmuganathan, who is also the vice president of Tamil Nadu Recognised Private Schools Management Association.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, former Chief Minister K Kamaraj’s granddaughter VS Kamalika Kamarajar said her grandfather encouraged philanthropists to start schools in economically backward regions with the high hopes of providing free education to rural students. “Aided schools should be treated as government schools and it is the State’s responsibility to extend all welfare schemes to all the schools,” she noted.
A senior official told The New Indian Express it is true that there has been some official resistance to consider aided schools on par with government schools. “However, a committee has been formed to draft a separate educational policy for Tamil Nadu and the panel will surely discuss the issues of aided schools as well,” he said.
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