One of the main problems facing public schools is the lack of trust among people towards state-run schools. The provision of the Right to Education Act 2009, which mandates the formation of school management committees with powers to oversee the functioning of schools, may help to change this. According to the RTE law, 15 of the 20 members of the CGE will be parents.
The formation of these committees, however, never took off in Tamil Nadu with only a handful of schools having active SMCs. This may change in the next few years, as the Department of School Education takes the initiative to publicize the SMCs and replenish them through the Nam Palli Nam Perumai program. More than 23 lakh parents attended school management committee sensitization meetings held in 37,558 schools across the state on March 20.
Currently, the reconstitution of CGEs is underway in schools in four phases. Chief Minister MK Stalin attended an SMC re-enactment function at Lady Willingdon School in Chennai on April 20.
“As the committees have not been functioning for a long time, it will take time to institutionalize them. The involvement of parents in school activities will create a sense of community ownership which will help improve school infrastructure,” said Samagara Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) officials who take the initiative to replenish the SMCs.
“We recognize that replenishing SMCs and parents spending time discussing school development will not happen overnight. The constant effort of the department is necessary over the next five years to ensure that the Nam Palli, Nam Perumai program is fully successful. We have now taken the first step towards that,” they added.
Natraj, who runs an NGO and was recently awarded by the government for raising awareness of CGEs, said: “Taking serious steps to institutionalize CGEs could be one of the important steps to increase parents’ confidence in public schools. . This becomes even more important now that public school enrollment has increased post-pandemic. We have seen how active CGEs have contributed to the development of schools. It is as important as spending millions of rupees on school infrastructure.
For the first time, the state Department of Education also conducted a digital out-of-school survey via a mobile app, creating a centralized and seamless process where 33,791 investigators, including teachers and teacher educators Resource Block (BRTE), identified children who either dropped out of schools or were never enrolled in any school.
The government has also announced the Naan Mudhalvan scheme under which career guidance will be provided to more than 10 lakh students in grades IX to XII every year. The government has so far spent Rs 3.09 crore on the project.
Apart from this, the government is also focusing on improving the facilities of high-tech labs in schools. Currently, there are 10 computers in each computer lab of 3,090 public secondary schools and 20 computers in each laboratory of 2,939 public upper secondary schools. In order to boost digital literacy, the government has now planned to set up high-tech labs for colleges as well.
“In the first phase, high-tech labs will be established for 1,784 colleges at a cost of Rs 114.17 crore, which would help bridge the digital divide,” officials said.
These labs are also used to provide information and communication technology (ICT) training to teachers.