Moreover, with monsoon showers having commenced, the School Education Department feels it would be wise to initiate door delivery rather than keeping the textbooks in ‘unsafe’ school buildings.
As part of the department’s earlier plan to reopen the institutions once normalcy is restored, free textbooks for the students from Classes 1 to 12 for the new academic year were delivered to almost all the government and government-aided schools across the State barring Chennai and its suburban districts.
A senior official from the Directorate of School Education told DT Next on Saturday that this year also free textbooks will be provided to all students of State-run schools at a cost of Rs 195.25 crore.
Stating that about 1.98 crore textbooks have been delivered to the schools, he said: “However, there is no clear idea as to when the schools will reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to prevail across the State”.
The official said taking into consideration the current scenario, the reopening of schools is likely to happen only after September. Therefore, keeping the textbooks unutilised in the schools until then will not help serve its purpose. “Besides, with monsoon rains getting intensified across all districts, there is a possibility of books getting drenched in the downpour,” he said.
Pointing out that the government, as part of continuing the noon meal programme, is planning to supply foodgrains to the children at their doorsteps, the official said authorities are now contemplating distribution of textbooks along with foodgrains.
He said more than 70 lakh students in the State-run schools will benefit under the free textbook scheme this year. “Since intensified lockdown has been put in place in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts till July 31, the textbook distribution in these districts will begin from August,” he said.
According to the official, like textbooks, free notebooks will also be distributed to all the students of Classes 1 to 10 in the State-run schools. “The work of transporting notebooks will begin once textbooks are delivered,” he added.
Pvt schools seek govt support to tide over crisis
Reeling under severe financial crisis due to non-collection of fees, private schools in Tamil Nadu have urged the State government to extend the moratorium on loan EMIs to the institutions till December without any accumulated interest.
The All India Private Educational Institutions Association, in an appeal to the School Education Department, said due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, all the schools and colleges were closed from March and hence need governmental support to tide over the financial crisis caused by it.
“The institutions were unable to collect the monthly tuition fees regularly. Only a few students pay tuition fees regularly while the rest accumulate the arrears and pay at the end of the academic year (March-April) every year,” Association General Secretary K Palaniyappan pointed out.
He said with the institutions already running on loan from the banks, pending fees from the students have pushed them further into a corner in maintaining their credentials with the bank. “As we have not received any indication from the government on opening the schools, we have not had any source for generating the current academic year income,” he said adding “yet we need to pay the recurring expenditures like salaries to the teaching and non-teaching staff and the electricity bill”.
The association said under these circumstances, the government should allow collecting fees for the current academic year in three equal instalments — in August, December and April 2021. “Also, the government should allow collecting last year’s pending tuition fees without any hue and cry from the parents,” said Palaniyappan adding: “Loan EMIs of the schools can be extended till December 2020 without accumulated interest besides changing EB tariff from commercial to residential”.
Similarly, the Federation of Association of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu has requested the State and the Centre to provide six months’ salary as an interest-free long-term loan to all the self-financed schools.
Association president S Raja, in a statement, said: “Considering the miserable financial condition of the private school teachers, we request you to grant an amount of six months’ salary as a long-term interest-free loan to all the self-financed schools in the State, mainly for salary disbursal among the teaching and non-teaching staff.”