The mothers’ group of Chennai Middle School in Arumbakkam monitors two non-negotiables: the quality of mid-day meal and children's attendance
It’s a little past noon and Pennarasi rushes with her plate to be served rice and sambar by women preparing mid-day meal at Chennai Middle School, Arumbakkam. “It is good today,” says the parent, tasting the the vegetable mix before students line up to claim their share. It is a regular practice in the school, wherein one of the members of the ‘Annaiyar kuzhi’ (mothers’ group) have the mid-day meal before it is served to children and give feedback to improve the quality.
The is one of the innovation that bagged the headmistress D. Jayalakshmi the Radhakrishnan Award for the Best Teacher and the school the title of ‘a model school’ by the Chennai Corporation this year.
At a time when Government schools are losing patronage to English-medium ones, it is not just initiatives by the civic body but also individuals and school managements that raise the profile of a school. The Annaiyar kuzhi with 10 members, each representing a class, does much more. They monitor if children are regular to class and if the toilets are clean. “To have greater participation from all parents, this 10-member group keeps changing,” says Ms. Jayalakshmi.
The school has strength of about 400 students and offers English medium in L.K.G to class II.
For the last few years, the headmistress and her team of 14 teachers have been proving a point among the neighbourhood private schools by improving infrastructure and showcasing the skills of their students. As a result, the enrolments have increased.
“From 95 new admissions the previous academic year, we had 137 students enrolled this academic year.
Some of who have opted out from joining a private school,” says Ms. Jayalakshmi, showing us the boundary walls of the schools that are painted with mythological scenes.
During PTA meetings, parents are encouraged to spend time in the class. “It is important to strike a rapport between a parent and teacher and teacher and students…that’s what we are doing,” says the teacher.