Children of six schools denied place to play as ground is let out

Space constraint: Children playing indoors at Thiruvalluvar Government Girls Higher Secondary School as Anna Thidal has been let out for a recreational event by the Local Administration Department.

Space constraint: Children playing indoors at Thiruvalluvar Government Girls Higher Secondary School as Anna Thidal has been let out for a recreational event by the Local Administration Department.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

For the last 10 years, the affected students are forced to play only indoor games

With Anna Thidal out of bounds for sporting events, hundreds of children studying in government schools in Boulevard area are denied a place to play during school hours.

The children of Thirvalluvar Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Thiru Vi Ka Boys High School; Veeramamunivar Boys High School; Savarirayalu Government High School; Jayarani Government Aided School; and Subramania Bharathiyar Government High School were using Anna Thidal for outdoor games till 10 years ago as the schools lacked playground.

The decision of the Local Administration Department to rent out the football ground for recreational events as a source of revenue generation has denied the childen a place for playing.

In some of these schools, children had to be content playing indoor games such as chess and carom during their physical education class hours. “It has become monotonous to spend time always around the chess and carrom boards. There is no physical activity. After getting back home, we will not have time left to play because of tuition and other commitments,” R. Rakesh, a student, said. As per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, schools should have open space for outdoor activities. Adequate provisions were included in the Act to ensure that children have sufficient open space for sports and other physical activities during school hours, said an official in the Directorate of School Education.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Department of School Education and Literacy had issued a notification after implementation of the Act stating that in case space was not available within the school complex, the management could make adequate arrangements in municipal park or playground.

RTE Act violation

According to a physical education teacher, for the last 10 years, the students of these six schools are only involved in indoor games. “In some schools, the students just while away their time during physical education class hours as they don’t have facility for indoor games. It is a clear violation of RTE Act to deny these children their right to play,” he said. The Education Department should take over Anna Thidal and provide an annual fee for using the ground to the Local Administration Department. “The ground is now rented out for a minimum amount to private parties. If the Education Department can provide a fixed amount to LAD, the municipality will have more revenue,” the teacher said.

Vasanthi Bascarane, Professor, Department of Physical Education and Sports, Pondicherry University, said engaging in physical activity from a young age was important for the mental and physical health of a child. Physical activity is associated with a low risk of cardiovascular disease and an increased life expectancy, she said.

“It relieves stress, anxiety and improves confidence and self-esteem in a child. The physical activity enables them to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of becoming obese,” the professor said. DMK MLA R. Siva said he had raised the issue of closure of Anna Thidal for sporting events in the Assembly several times after teachers and parents complained about lack of space for physical activity. The students of six schools dependent on Anna Thidal for playing, he added.

‘Talks are on’

Minister for Agriculture R. Kamalakannan, who holds the Education portfolio, said the School Education Department was in talks with LAD to allow children to use Anna Thidal. “It is not just six schools which do not have playgrounds. There are 11 schools in urban area with no playgrounds. We are considering various options to provide opportunity for the children to play during school hours,” he said.

From the last two years, the government had started setting aside funds for maintenance of school premises and grounds. Last year, the government had earmarked ₹19 crore, he added.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 12:38:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/children-of-six-schools-denied-place-to-play-as-ground-is-let-out/article30756085.ece

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