Even as hundreds of private schools in Tamil Nadu are struggling to obtain or renew their recognition mainly over the land issue, authorities of some of these private schools have alleged that a group of individuals were conducting meetings in several districts and seeking money from private schools to influence the report of an expert committee formed by the State Government to fix minimum land requirements for private schools.

Recognition

R. Visalakshi, president of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association, said that such incidents were not surprising as for nearly two years, recognition orders of 900 schools in the State were pending for want of minimum land.

The managements of these schools were desperate to get their recognition orders renewed as the Right To Education Act prohibits schools from functioning without recognition. Some persons were trying to exploit their desperation, she added.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a school Principal who attended one of the meetings conducted by the group said that it was held on January 9 at Salem with private schools from the neighbouring Erode district also taking part.

The group claimed to be office-bearers of an association representing private schools.

These persons demanded that schools with strength of 250 students should give Rs. 1 lakh, those with 500 students Rs. 2 lakh, those with 750 students Rs. 3 lakh and those with above 1,000 students Rs. 4 lakh. Such meetings were also held earlier at Dindigul, Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Vellore and Villupuram, and they witnessed significant attendance. Another Principal claimed that some officials from the Department of School Education and people with political affiliations were also present, a factor that convinced many schools to attend the meeting.

Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Welfare Association General Secretary G. Krishnaraj said that the State Government must quickly implement the expert committee’s reports to prevent such persons from maligning the Government’s name.

He claimed that land was an issue for nearly 60 per cent of primary and nursery schools in the State because of which they were unable to obtain recognition or renew it.

Private schools have to renew their recognition every three years. Department of School Education demands approval certificates from a host of other Government departments for the purpose.

The seven-member expert committee under Director of School Education was constituted in May 2013.

It held consultations in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Madurai districts during May and June with schools’ associations, parents, students and other stakeholders.

However, the report was yet to be released.