Mothers of students will now have a say in the way schools are run, according to a State government order issued earlier this week.

According to the order, issued on October 22 and applicable to all government, aided and private schools in Tamil Nadu, a five-member committee of mothers will have to visit respective schools once a week and inspect facilities such as toilets, drinking water, laboratories, provision of adequate computers, library, playground and classroom infrastructure.

The five members will be chosen by a draw of lots. Each mother will represent a section of the school: kindergarten, classes I to III, classes IV and V, classes VI to X and classes XI and XII.

The GO said the members have to be chosen in a transparent manner. A group of mothers cannot inspect the school twice.

After inspecting the facilities on a working day, the members would have to record their observations in a register and the school management will be expected to address the problems identified.

“We want to increase parental involvement in private schools, as they are important stake-holders. Managements will also become more accountable,” a senior official of the School Education Department said.

On why the department decided to make it a mothers’ committee instead of giving a choice to either of the parents, the official said: “Mothers usually tend to be more involved with their children. When it comes to deciding what is good for the children, they know best.”

The GO also mandates that all private schools in the State adhere to norms pertaining to building construction, safety in electrical wiring and other electrical provisions on school campuses. They must provide comfortable desks and seats with back rest, ensure availability of first aid and safety in laboratories and on playgrounds.

Parents welcomed the move, pointing to the potential it offers for more parental involvement. Rohini Molleti, mother of a student going to Lady Andal School said: “It is a great idea. Parents will not only have a chance to point to inadequacies in infrastructure, lack of hygiene or maintenance, but will also be able to appreciate the challenges faced by a school.”

C. Amalraj, Assistant Head Master at St. Bede’s Matriculation, said it was a good idea to involve parents.

“We already have PTAs that meet from time to time, but parent-members do not really inspect facilities. We have seen a few accidents in recent times and this initiative will help us ensure a safer environment for students. The frequency of inspection seems a bit high, but maybe it will work out.”