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TN sees rise in complaints over single teacher schools in tribal settlements

- March 24, 2022

Chennai, March 24 (IANS)

In  Tamil Nadu there are single-teacher schools in many tribal settlements spread across the tribal hamlets but the situation of these schools are poor mainly due to the lethargic attitude of the teachers.

The single-teacher schools in Tamil Nadu were formulated as part of the central government policy of ‘Ekal Vidyala’ and is supported by the government of India through the concerned state governments.

While teachers are not paid a princely sum as salary and they have to trek to distant places to reach the tribal settlements, there are cases in which teachers are  doing yeoman services. However of late many teachers are not properly visiting the schools and not providing proper noon meals to the students of the tribal colonies.

In the tribal settlement of Krishnagiri district, there are complaints galore of the concerned teacher not reaching the school regularly and instead appearing once in week to schools. The Irular tribes who inhabit in the colony have complained to the District educational officer, Krishnagiri district against the callous attitude of the teacher and that mid day meals have not been served in the school and if at all it is served, the quality was poor. While tribal students in single teacher schools are entitled for an egg along with the mid day meal.

On receiving a complaint, the health department and education department officials conducted a surprise inspection at the school premises and found that the teacher was not present. The inspection team also found that the mid day meals served at the Panchyath Union School at Bettamugilagam in Krishnagiri district was of poor quality and not edible. Egg was also not served substantiating the complaint  raised by the Irular community.

In the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu also, the Kattunaikar community have complained against the ill functioning of a tribal school in their settlement. Similar to the complaint at Krishnagiri district, in a single teacher school, an inspection team found poor quality and inedible midday meals and the teacher was absent for the past five days. The food was served in adjustment with a local tribal man.

An education department official of Nilgiris district while speaking to BPNS said, “The single teacher school we went inside Nilgiris was found to serve poor quality food and egg was not served in the meal. In fact the meal was served by a local person and teacher was no where to be seen. Children and community members told us that the teacher pays a visit to the school once in four or five days and does not teach anything.”

While the central government and state governments have commenced the single teacher schools in good intention, it is to be seen whether the schools are infact delivering what was expected of them.

The Tamil Nadu state school education minister, Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi while speaking to BPNS said, “I will have to check with the facts regarding this and will speak to our department heads and get a clear picture on what is happening and then will take appropriate action if the teachers are found to be irresponsible as reported.”

Social workers among the tribal communities said that in almost all the districts of Tamil Nadu, situation is similar in tribal hamlets.

M. Kannan, a tribal leader from Coimbatore while speaking to BPNS said, “The situation is similar in several single teacher schools in tribal areas and unless the government conduct proper monitoring and checking, nothing is going to change. We have been petitioning several times to authorities and the inspections conducted were part of the regular complaints we were filing against this injustice conducted in the name of development of tribal schools. At least this has turned into an eye-opener.”