Priscilla Jebaraj

"Government urged to allocate Rs.1-crore revolving fund"

  • The department plans to adapt NIOS material
  • There is a demand for open schooling in Tamil

    CHENNAI: State Open Schooling could soon be expanded to offer Tamil medium courses for Class 8, 10 and 12.

    In a revised proposal calling for Rs 1 crore in funding, more manpower and doubled enrolment, the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT), along with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), has asked the State Government to revive the struggling project. The Tamil Nadu State Open Schooling (SOS) system, the oldest in the country, has been suspended for the last four years, reportedly due to a shortage of monetary and human resources. In its earlier avatar, it offered only Class 10 courses. It was run with the Rs 500 per annum fees and had an enrolment of about 2500. Under the new proposal, NIOS has given Rs 5 lakh as seed money and DTERT is asking the State Government to allocate Rs 1 crore as a revolving fund. Subsequently, DTERT expects to generate funds through the project itself, so that it can sustain itself in the long run. Officials say they expect to get government approval "soon". So far, the 29 District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) spread across the State acted as study centres. Under the revised proposal, access will be improved by choosing one higher secondary school in every block to serve as a study centre. Officials say only schools with very good infrastructure will be selected and senior teachers will be asked to handle the contact classes, supplemented by visiting staff from the DIETs.

    The department plans to adapt NIOS material and also develop more material to accommodate regional differences and align more closely with the State Board syllabus. Just like NIOS, the SOS will include self-learning material, a personal contact programme, flexible subject and examination options and a credit transfer system. The department is targeting an initial enrolment of 5000 students. For Class 12, only the humanities stream will be offered as a pilot project. With its flexibility and learner-centric approach, open schooling is ideal for working people, school dropouts, especially housewives, and physically and mentally disabled children who cannot cope with a regular classroom system.

    The State Commissioner for the Disabled V.K. Jeyakodi says "there is a demand for open schooling in Tamil" from organisations working with disabled children. Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu is one institute, which already uses the English medium NIOS system. Director Annie Shyam says while many parents want their children to study in English, she often counsels them that children who already have learning disabilities will only get confused if forced to study in a language not their own.

    However, V.S. Raveendran, head of the NIOS regional centre says that while they plan to include Tamil as one of the language options for Class 12 from the next academic year, the medium of instruction will continue to be English, Hindi and Urdu. "It is up to the state open schools to develop regional language medium courses," he says.