National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the technical consultant to Department of School Education, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, for effective implementation of RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan) has envisaged a vital role for School Management Development Committees (SMDC).

At a recent State-level workshop for additional project coordinators, data entry operators and education coordinators of 32 districts, NUEPA experts emphasised on full-fledged SMDC support for upholding quality of education under RMSA.

Chaired by the school headmaster, the SMDC has a representative of Parent-Teacher Association as next in the hierarchy, and three others: a teacher, a representative of non-government organisation, and a ward member, with the mandate to uphold quality through monitoring infrastructure development and training of teachers.

The rationale behind the importance given for SMDC for implementation of RMSA is to enlist community participation for ensuring access to quality education, according to officials.

The meeting coincided with the demand made by high school headmasters to the school education department to spare them from financial responsibilities for infrastructure development under RMSA.

In Tiruchi district, funds released during 2009-10 for upgrading upper primary schools to high schools with Rs.58 lakh allocated per institution have almost been utilised.

Works have been completed in four schools: Vembanur in Marungapuri block, Inam Mathur near Ariyavur, Kanakiliyanallur in Pullambadi block, and Kuruvampatti in Mannachanallur block, and students have started utilising the new building.

Construction work is nearing completion at the school in Unaiyur near Marungapuri, and is half-way through for Adi Dravidar Welfare School at Kuppampatti in Uppiliyapuram Block, official sources said.

The pace of progress of the construction work usually depends on the activeness of the high school headmasters. However, the school heads are reluctant to take up the responsibility since they say their hands are already full with the tasks associated with implementation of the plethora of government schemes. According to Sami Sathyamoorthy, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu High and Higher Secondary School Headmasters’ Association, burdening school heads with more and more administrative responsibilities will affect academic efficiency of the institutions.

Cement rate

Since the State government supplies cement at controlled rate of Rs.200 per bag and steel is supplied by Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), there is nothing much to worry about cost-escalation, senior officials explain.

While acknowledging that the recent schemes to provide caste certificate for students of VI standard onwards through HMs and online filling of data pertaining to SSLC students who are due to appear for this year’s public examination were strenuous tasks, the officials maintain that the HMs were only performing the tasks that were carried out by heads of primary schools under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan in recent years. Under SSA, the school heads under the guidance of Village Education Committees headed by the panchayat presidents saw through the construction of two and three-classroom buildings.

As chairpersons of SMDCs, high school heads enjoy better advantage to take quick financial decisions for construction of 10,000 square feet buildings, sources added.