Private school associations and managements have urged the State Government to exempt schools that have been in existence for many years from conforming to the land norms. It would be impossible to acquire land to satisfy the norms because of the high value of land. Alternatively, they have suggested that the norms for land requirement be fixed on the basis of the type of school and the student strength rather than on the basis of locality.

These suggestions were made by stakeholders at a public hearing held by an experts committee here on Tuesday, with many private schools facing the threat of closure by the State Government for non-compliance of land norms.

Though the Department of School Education set the March 31 deadline for compliance to land norms, many did not make it.

There are specifications of the land area that a private school should comply with for getting permission to open and obtaining recognition.

With many representations being made by school associations and managements, the State Government constituted a seven-member expert committee under the chairmanship of K. Devarajan, Director of School Education, to give recommendations on minimum land requirement norms. The expert committee is visiting various places in the State to collect suggestions from various stakeholders such as school associations, managements, parents, students, and public. The second public hearing was held here after the first one in Chennai on May 23.

“Though the stipulation of minimum land allocation has been there since 2004, many were not able to fulfil this eligibility criterion. The expert committee is holding hearings in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchi, and Tirunelveli, to hear the grievances and collect the suggestions. These will be compiled as recommendations and presented to the Government by the end of June,” Mr. Devarajan said.

Representatives from Tirupur, The Nilgiris, Erode, Salem, Namakkal, and nearby areas, were present in large numbers. Most of the school representatives said the differences in land area should not be based on the locality. Uniform land requirement for schools, irrespective of locality — rural or urban, was urged.

R. Visalakshi, president of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association, said students, parents, teachers and management, were in a difficult situation.

“Even if extension is given to conform to land norms, and if the school management wants to acquire land, there is no vacant land adjacent to most of the schools. The norms should be fixed on the basis of the type of the school. The number of sections and the student strength can be fixed according to the availability of land and infrastructure,” she said.

Referring to the revised version of G.O. 48 that said that land of a school could not be scattered but should be in one single place, she added that even if schools had lands in different places, it could be accepted and recognition granted for the same.

Representatives from Erode and Salem stressed the fact that the authorities should make it amenable for schools that did not meet the land norms to add buildings in the existing land rather than insist on adding land.

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