This academic year is significant, as it marks the beginning of some key initiatives planned by the State government — introduction of a trimester pattern among other things
Amid motorists rushing for work and crowded MTC buses, when you spot a little pigtailed girl in bright green uniform smiling as she rides pillion, you know the new academic year has begun. With schools run by the government and the Chennai Corporation, and some government-aided schools reopening on Friday, city roads were witness to many such boys and girls eagerly getting back to school.
This academic year is significant, as it marks the beginning of some key initiatives planned by the State government — introduction of a trimester pattern; a new evaluation system modelled on CBSE's Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE); implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in full swing and the evolution of the State's own curricular framework, the Tamil Nadu Curricular Framework 2012.
As a senior teacher working at a Chennai Corporation-run school put it, “If these initiatives are to see any meaningful progress, the School Education Department, school heads and parents will have to be on the same page. Coordination is crucial.”
The trimester system brings with it the promise of lighter school bags and lesser burden on children. Textbooks have been printed combining chapters to be covered in a particular term, across subjects. Those in classes I to VIII will have to carry just two textbooks to school. Compared to last year's nightmarish delay in textbooks reaching schools the Textbook Corporation has been quit prompt this year, according to school heads.
“We got the books without any hassle,” said V. Selvaraj, Headmaster, Hindu Theological School in Broadway.
K. Gopal, Managing Director, Tamilnadu Textbook Corporation, said: “We have also sanctioned retailing of a small stock of books through 1,500 dealers in the State. This is to help schools that have not placed an order with us,” said Mr. Gopal.
The Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT) held a series of workshops on CCE to orient teacher of government and private schools following the State Board to the new system of evaluation.
The State government has also constituted two expert committees to revise the ‘Samacheer Kalvi' syllabus as well as the higher secondary (Plus-Two) syllabus.
Spotlight on RTE
The real challenge for the department, however, lies in taking the RTE Act forward in the State. With detailed plans chalked out and multiple government orders issued, a broad framework is available for all schools to work within.
An important first step in this regard would be to form the School Monitoring Committees (SMCs) mandated by the Act. The committee, to be chaired by a PTA representative, will include parents, teachers, school head, local body member, educationist/philanthropist/activist and an SHG representative, and will prepare a school development plan for the year.
Irrespective of whether a school is run by the government or not, the SMC will monitor teachers' attendance, students' performance and infrastructure requirements of the school.