Teachers want government to relieve them of responsibility of distributing such freebies

After textbooks, notebooks, footwear and spectacles, the next set of freebies — bicycles for students studying in Class XI at government, local body and government aided private schools — is ready for distribution to 29,200 students in the district.

While the bicycles for boys cost the State government Rs. 3,480.75 each, girls’ cycles cost Rs. 3,091.50 each. The government allocated Rs.210 crore in the budget this year for the purchase of bicycles for schools across the State.

Chief Educational Officer C. Amuthavalli said the first set of bicycles meant for students in Madurai district had already arrived.

Though her department had placed an indent for 29,200 cycles this year, more cycles will be ordered if required.

Though students get the cycles irrespective of their caste, they are recorded as a benefit accorded by the Adi Dravidar Welfare Department and Backward Class, Most Backward Class and Minorities Welfare Department.

The School Education Department bears the cost of providing the bicycles to students falling under the category of ‘Other Castes.’

The education office in each district has the responsibility of collecting the orders for cycles from heads of schools within its jurisdiction and placing the indent.

While welcoming the distribution of freebies or ‘costless benefits’ as the government prefers to call them, S. Chinnadurai, Madurai district president of the Tamil Nadu Postgraduate Teachers’ Association, said that the authorities concerned should make sure that teachers were not involved in the distribution work.

He claimed that at present school teachers have little time to concentrate on academics as they were involved in the implementation of all kinds of student welfare benefits which ranged from ensuring the provision of nutritious noon meals to distribution of uniforms, school bags, atlases and much more.

"There is a dearth of office staff in most of the government schools and, therefore, the headmasters ask the teachers to go and collect things such as free notebooks and textbooks from nodal points. It does not end with a single trip as all notebooks and textbooks are not distributed in one go.

"On the one hand, we are forced to roam around for implementing student welfare measures and, on the other, the school education department puts pressure on us to complete the syllabus on time and makes us answerable for not showing good results. How can this be fair?" he asks.

He pointed out that the executive committee of his association had recently passed a resolution urging the State government to relieve teachers of the responsibility of implementing student welfare schemes and entrust the task to special officers in every educational district.