Making children comfortable on the first day of academic year

As young Arun crossed the busy main road in front of Government TTI Lower Primary School at Manacaud, holding tightly to his mother’s hand, his face displayed all the apprehension of being dragged to an unfamiliar world. But at the gates, he suddenly slipped his hand out of his mother’s and ran to the NCC cadets distributing toffees. The first of the school’s plans to make the children comfortable seemed to be working.

Further inside, Arun again escapes from his mother’s fingers on seeing a friendly giant zebra, Pappu, the road safety mascot of the traffic police. Before the excitement of shaking hands with a zebra could die out, his eyes fell on Ammu, the Great Hornbill, the official mascot of the 35th National Games to be hosted in the State.

The teachers welcomed him to the group that had already gathered there, by placing a crown fashioned out of coconut leaves on his head. It was now time to proceed to the inauguration of the ‘Pravesanotsavam,’ the annual event organised at government schools to welcome new students such as Arun.

Inaugurating the event, District Collector Biju Prabhakar said the huge crowd of new students and parents was testimony to the fact that public education in the State was thriving, and not going down as was the popular perception.

“Though government schools faced a tough situation sometime back, now it has turned around. With the cooperation and support of parents and local people, schools like this have set an example. Now we have more than enough number of schools than required,” Mr. Prabhakar said.

He also commended the school for its stress on extra-curricular activities and the child-friendly classrooms and campus.

The school authorities said there had been a scramble for admissions to the school in recent years and there had been cases were students from private schools shifted here.

After the function, Arun and his friends walked excitedly to the classrooms where chairs shaped like butterflies and zebras awaited them. Breaking the popular image of crying faces on the first day of school, all of them had smiles as they sat waiting for the ‘classes’ to begin.

The Manacaud school has the maximum number of new entrants in the State, 231.