Initiative to monitor regulations useful, but difficult to implement, schools say
A day after director of matriculation schools D. Vasundaradevi warned schools of stringent action if they were found flouting safety norms, a meeting of inspectors of matriculation schools from all districts was convened on Tuesday.
According to an official, the agenda focussed chiefly on ensuring that a mothers' committee be formed and that safety norms prescribed by the education department be put in place. Most schools are yet to get started on forming mothers’ committees.
According to a government order issued on October 22, each school, be it government, government-aided or private, should select a five-member committee of mothers who represent every section of the school each week through a draw of lots.
These mothers are to check the school for facilities such as drinking water, toilets, safety mechanisms in place as well as infrastructure, and maintain a log record. However, this new attempt at increasing accountability of schools and ensuring parents’ active involvement is yet to properly take off.
J. Ramya, (name changed), whose daughter studies in class IX at a matriculation school in Adyar, said that she had not heard from the school about any such initiative as yet. “If implemented in spirit it will be a welcome step, because at the parent-teacher association meetings, mostly academics are discussed. Few parents raise issues about infrastructure and sanitation,” she said, adding that even if such a mechanism was put in place, mothers should offer suggestions objectively without the fear of antagonising the school.
A parent of a student in Vidyodaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, who did not wish to be named, said that he had received a circular from the school about such an initiative before breaking for the Pongal holidays, but was not sure whether it had taken off after that.
A principal of a matriculation school in Pammal admitted that the proposal remained only on paper, because of practical difficulties in implementing it. “Today, most mothers are working, and even from the school’s side, it is tedious to choose five mothers each week, co-ordinate and schedule a visit on a weekly basis,” the principal said.
Another principal of a matriculation school in Chetpet said they tried it for a week, but have not followed up since, due to similar concerns.
“We convene a meeting of parents whose children use the school van regularly, where they inspect the safety mechanisms in place. But choosing five mothers each week is difficult to organise. The period between visits should be extended or surprise checks could be conducted by department officials,” the principal said.
Parents however, maintained that this move would go a long way in increasing accountability.
“On a regular working day, I cannot just walk around the school to see if the toilets are in good condition, for instance,” one parent said.