The government on Friday announced a timeline for the implementation of equitable standard school education for classes I and VI.

The draft syllabi for the two classes would be ready by the end of September. They would be made available for wider consultations in October. By October end, the syllabi would be finalised.

November and December would be devoted to the preparation of textbooks. The manuscripts would be ready by December end. In January, they would be handed over to the Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation. In June, the textbooks would be distributed to students of the two classes.

After presiding over a meeting to review the implementation of the government’s latest policy decision in education, Thangam Thennarasu, School Education Minister, asserted that the decision-making process would be completely transparent. The best features of the present syllabi of the existing four streams – State Board, Matriculation, Oriental and Anglo Indian – would be incorporated.

This time, teachers of private institutions, if they desired so, would be involved in the preparation of text books, the Minister added.

He told The Hindu that “we are keen on enhancing the overall quality of textbooks in terms of content, printing quality and visual appeal.” In this exercise, the department was open to drawing from other boards, too. “We will also use the NCERT textbooks as a model and look at incorporating some of the features from their textbooks,” he said. Textbooks would hence include a lot of pictures and other visual elements.

Private schools

On the role of private schools in the implementation, he said that first, private school managements had to be convinced on the importance and social relevance of equitable education. “Sections that seemed a little reluctant initially are now convinced about this move and have even started campaigning for it. As the Chief Minister has recently pointed out, there was no question of dilution of any stream, so they need not be worried,” he said.

However, a section of private school managements, while expressing their willingness to campaign and raise awareness on the need for equitable education, have asked for inclusion in welfare schemes that are applicable to State Board schools, such as scholarships, free bicycles to students, teacher awards, and tax waivers.

Queried on whether the department was considering including private schools in such schemes, the Minister said that it was a separate issue. “The two [equitable standard school education and welfare schemes] cannot be clubbed. Private schools work with different fee structures depending on the facilities they provide. So, we will have to discuss these issues at a different forum. ”

“I do not deny the role being played by private schools. All the same, there is no doubt that government schools have come a long way in terms of students’ performance. Unlike some private schools that admitted only the cream of students to produce toppers, government schools admitted all interested students. We have to remember that 82 per cent of the students in our State go to schools of the State Board.”

Teacher training

The Implementation of equitable standard school education would also require the teacher training system to be enhanced, he said. “All efforts will be taken to prepare the teachers for equitable education,” he added.

On questions regarding the two-language formula, Mr Thennarasu said that there would be no change in the position that Tamil, as a language, would have to be learnt compulsorily [up to 10th standard].

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