“Focus on government school students”

LAYING OUT PLANS: School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu with education officers at a meeting in Chennai on Saturday.

LAYING OUT PLANS: School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu with education officers at a meeting in Chennai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: M.VEDHAN

Meera Srinivasan

Minister is upset that toppers are only from aided or private schools

CHENNAI: “We need to take it up as a challenge and focus on students of government schools this academic year to help them secure top State ranks in the Std. X and Plus Two examinations,” School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu said on Saturday.

“While the overall performance of students has improved, it is sad that the toppers are from aided or private schools, and not government schools,” he said, addressing Chief Educational Officers and District Educational Officers at a meeting organised to mark the beginning of the new academic year. The performance of candidates in northern districts such as Villupuram, Cuddalore, Thiruvannamalai and Vellore had improved, but did not match that of students in other districts, he said.

As for the challenges, Mr. Thennarasu said the department had done well in primary education enrolment, but must focus on upper primary and secondary education to prevent students dropping out. “Girls of Std. IX to Plus Two tend to drop out. We should take steps to prevent this. We should achieve a zero per cent dropout soon.”

Following complaints that schools were demanding donations or special tuition fees, the Department constituted committees last year to look into this issue. Mr. Thennarasu urged these committees, headed by CEOs, to submit a report soon, highlighting where the practice was prevalent. “The complaints showed that not only private schools but also aided schools indulged in this practice. Education should not become unaffordable to the lesser privileged sections. We have to curb this [practice] immediately,” he said.

On the upgrade of middle and high schools, the Minister urged CEOs to ensure that the schools short-listed were fully eligible.

“We get complaints that many schools deny Std. X and Plus Two admission to students who have performed below par. They take in the top scorers to get State ranks,” he said. He urged schools to give preference to Backward classes and SC/ST students, and encourage them to take streams of their choice to be able to pursue professional education.

He also asked the CEOs to check whether junk food was being sold on school premises, students continued using mobile phones, yoga had been included in the weekly timetable and schools followed road safety measures.

Beginning this academic year, the Active Learning Methodology would be extended to Std. IX.

The department was also looking at strategic public-private partnerships as part of the ‘school improvement plan’ to enhance both infrastructure and the teaching-learning process in schools.

Road ahead

The Department’s next main objective, Mr. Thennarasu said, was universalisation of secondary education. “The department has submitted a detailed report to the Centre, and the Chief Minister has allocated Rs.200 crore for this.”

M. Kutralingam, Secretary, School Education Department, asked the CEOs to coordinate with officials of the Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu to ensure schools had enough computers.

A team of students and a teacher from a government school would be sent to Japan under an exchange programme.

P. Perumalsamy, who recently took charge as Director of School Education, urged the officers to conduct school inspections regularly and ensure that schools made a timetable available to students and teachers. As many as 30 CEOs and 66 DEOs attended the meeting.

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