Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: “Quality, compulsory and fee-free education for all.” This will be the objective of Pasumai Thayagam, an arm of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, party founder S. Ramadoss has said.

Expressing concern at the rampant commercialisation of education, from the kindergarten to the higher education, Dr. Ramadoss said the State Government must consider a separate Ministry for primary education and try to achieve uniform syllabus in Tamil Nadu.

Commending the Government for having constituted the Muthukumaran Committee to consider implementation of a uniform syllabus, Dr. Ramadoss wanted the Government to make public the committee’s recommendations, submitted on July 4, 2007. He reiterated his demand that schools not having a full-fledged playground be closed immediately. Seventy-five per cent of schools did not have a playground.

Stressing the need to introduce a common school system and the neighbourhood school scheme, Dr. Ramadoss said the Government could extend some form of grant to all schools to help them implement the Government’s welfare policies.

Earlier, Muthukumaran, former Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University and chairman of the committee, said the call for quality and free education for all encompassed other aspects such as the common school system and the neighbourhood school scheme. While agreeing that learning an additional language was beneficial to students, he said thrusting the concept on students was not proper.

Vasanthi Devi, former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University and former chairperson of the State Commission for Women, regretted that students were not opting for Tamil even as second language; instead, they preferred Hindi or French. The State’s two-language policy had banished Tamil. The Central budgetary support for education should be increased to at least six per cent from the present 3.5 per cent.

Educationist S.S. Rajagopal, member of the Muthukumaran Committee, said access to quality education was people’s right, and ensuring it was the Government’s duty. A tremendous political resolve was necessary to bring about radical changes, he said.