The State Assembly on Tuesday passed a Bill to indefinitely postpone the implementation of the ‘uniform system of education' introduced by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime after the government asserted that it was not abandoning the concept of ‘Samacheer Kalvi' altogether, but was only opting for a comprehensive review of the issue before implementing it.
DMK members, led by its floor leader M.K. Stalin, and Congress MLAs walked out in protest even as the amendment to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of Education Act was passed by voice vote.
“Our idea is to introduce a wholesome uniform system of education after a comprehensive review,” Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said in an intervention during the discussion on the Bill, which was introduced by School Education Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam and taken up for consideration the same day.
Mr. Stalin opposed the Bill at the introduction stage itself, as did a member each from the Congress and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).
The government said that it proposed to appoint a high-powered experts' committee to conduct a detailed study of the issue. Replying to the discussion, Mr. Shanmugam said ‘Samacheer Kalvi' as introduced by the DMK government was not a truly equitable system of education, but a common syllabus for different streams was sought to be projected as a uniform system. The S. Muthukumaran Committee, which went into the need for a uniform system across the four boards of school education in the State, had made 109 recommendations, but the DMK regime had accepted only four of them and sought to implement them in the name of ‘Samacheer Kalvi'.
“This Bill aims at studying the issue in detail, removing all the shortcomings in the system and then implementing it in a wholesome manner,” Mr. Shanmugam said.
He denied any political motive behind the move, saying it was not true to say the uniform system was being given up because it was introduced by the DMK government. He also sought to dispel the impression that the present dispensation was against the concept of ‘Samacheer Kalvi'.
Earlier, Thangam Thennarasu (DMK), who was School Education Minister in the previous regime, alleged that the move to give up ‘Samacheer Kalvi' was motivated solely by political considerations. “Samacheer Kalvi was a milestone in the State's history, and it was introduced only after the issue was studied comprehensively by educationists, academics and experts. I believe that only political motive can be the backdrop of this decision to give up the uniform system,” he said.
Mr. Thennarasu admitted that there were several aspects to ‘Samacheer Kalvi', but argued that a common syllabus was its core concept.
Earlier introducing the Bill, Mr. Shanmugam said it had become impossible to implement the ‘Samacheer Kalvi Thittam' as envisaged in the State's law on having a uniform system of education, according to the government.
He listed several reasons, including some arising out of the verdict of the Madras High Court in April 2010 on the validity of the law, for putting on hold the system based on a common syllabus for various streams of school education.
The statement of objects and reasons attached to the Bill said that the Act had not been amended as per the directions of the High Court. The Common Board had not been designated the Academic Authority as per Section 29 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. “Therefore, there is no competent professional body for prescribing the common syllabus and prescription of text books. No books other than the books brought out by the Tamil Nadu Text Book Corporation have yet been notified for Standards II to V and VII to X. This is required as per the judgment of the High Court.”
Further, various suggestions made by the Dr. S. Muthukumaran Committee with regard to the enactment of a comprehensive legislation covering qualification of teachers, infrastructure, examinations, code of conduct for teachers and rules for students needed comprehensive study, besides the need for changes in the method of assessing students.
“Therefore, it has become impossible to implement the scheme this year as envisaged in Section 3 of the Act,” the government said.