CHENNAI: All the primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools under the government as well as private managements are periodically inspected by the field level officials in different types of education departments to ascertain and ensure the safety of children and provision of infrastructural facilities and it is the endeavour of the government to see to it that necessary facilities are provided to impart quality and standard education to all the school children, the TN government has stated in its counter-affidavit filed in the Madras High Court, recently.
The counter was filed by the Director of Matriculation Schools on behalf of the secretary of School Education department in response to a public interest writ petition from social worker S Ramanathan of Pochampalli, also the organiser of Krishnagiri district Congress Committee, praying for a direction to the authorities concerned to strictly implement the recommendations of the high level expert committee constituted by the State government to provide basic amenities for the betterment of the students.
The committee, headed by the Director of School Education, was constituted following a tragic fire accident in a private school in Kumbakonam in which over 94 children were charred to death, on July 16, 2004.
The counter said that from 2006 to till date, permission was granted to start 939 schools only after ensuring that they had strictly fulfilled all the infrastructural and safety parameters prescribed in various GOs issued from time to time. Orders have been issued for the closure of 104 schools which have not complied with the prescribed norms. There are 754 self-financing private schools, for which no fund can be allotted for purchase of necessary land. The State government is acting in the best interest of the children to ensure quality education and social justice by providing a level playing field to all sections of the society, the counter added. The conditions and recommendations stipulated in the GO dated August 10, 2006 of the School Education department, issued subsequent to the fire disaster, are scrupulously followed while according permission to open new schools as well as giving recognition to the existing ones. No such untoward incident occurred after the Kumbakonam tragedy, the counter pointed out and added that the government had been ensuring the safety of children admitted in all type of schools in the State.
When the PIL came up before the First Bench of Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam, Special Government Pleader D Krishnakumar submitted that no funds could be allocated to the 754 private schools for purchase of land. He, however, added that instructions have been issued for removal of various deficiencies. He also assured the Bench that monitoring of the schools would continue till deficiencies are rectified, failing which appropriate action would be taken. Recording the submission and holding that no further orders are necessary, the Bench closed the PIL on April 28 last.