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Schools under the shadow of monsoon

Liffy Thomas
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RAIN OF WOES: The YMCA Town Boys Higher Secondary School campus on Rajiv Gandhi Salai in Chennai after the monsoon showers on Thursday. — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan
RAIN OF WOES: The YMCA Town Boys Higher Secondary School campus on Rajiv Gandhi Salai in Chennai after the monsoon showers on Thursday. — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

The northeast monsoon has set in over the State only a few days ago but it has caused enough anxiety in some schools where the compounds have gone under sheets of water.

The sprawling YMCA Boys Town Higher Secondary School campus on Rajiv Gandhi Salai looks like an island after every downpour. Water from Rajiv Gandhi Salai whose height was increased and from an adjacent colony enters the campus, sometimes even inundating the classrooms. The clay soil makes it difficult to absorb water. Highways Department has instructed the school not to drain water on to the main road. To add to the problem are the frequent power cuts that make draining rainwater using motor pumps difficult. The school management is now taking up work on its own. “We are slowly increasing the height of the building on the campus that even houses a ladies hostel and an orphanage,” says a source in the school management, adding that many doors got damaged. A school student says that at least 20 holidays were declared holidays last year because of the monsoon.

The situation is no better at Akshara Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Okkiyam Thoraipakkam where even a week's holiday was given at a stretch during the monsoon last year. The school has been representing to the local panchayat and Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board to construct stormwater drains.

According to Nalini Unni, Principal, the school land has been raised to its maximum of six feet by filling the soil. Although the school received a letter from an executive engineer of TNSCB that stormwater drain is being laid at southern and northern boundary of Ezhil Nagar, construction of such facilities around the school are yet to begin.

Many other schools in north Chennai, including a middle school in Nellikuppam in Ennore hope that there is no continuous downpour or the rainwater would even enter the classrooms. While many such schools in the suburbs have similar woes during the monsoon, the situation is no different in private and government-aided schools in the city.

Bricks were lined up from the main gate to the corridors in Rani Meyyammai Girls Higher Secondary School, Mandaveli, as there was water-logging in the ground on Thursday.

According to a senior official of the Directorate of School Education, head of every government school is given Rs.50,000 annually to carry out any work and activity, this includes taking steps to see water, does not enter classrooms. At Chennai Schools, the zonal officers attend to complaints of school maintenance represented by headmasters and measures to prevent water-logging are given utmost priority.

In the last few months alone, three holidays were declared by the government, on account of rainfall. The holiday on Thursday was the third in this series and school authorities say many more are likely if the monsoon intensifies. The classes for {+S}tandard XII students, however, were conducted in some schools.

“Last year at least four holidays were declared, especially when the next day was bright and sunny. The new CBSE pattern where the academic year starts in April itself actually helps as we cover a few lessons. Also, anticipating monsoon we work two second Saturdays,” says Padmini Sriraman, Principal, The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Indira Nagar. Some schools have invested in water draining systems to bale out stagnant water.

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