Address basic issues first, say HMs amid clean-school drive launch
Headmasters and teachers have urged the department to ensure proper water connection in schools and the salaries of sanitary workers increased as these are the basis for keeping the schools clean.
CHENNAI: The school education department has written to all the district collectors to implement a new cleanliness programme - Engal Palli Milirum Palli - by forming committees at the district, block and school levels. The letter said performance-based awards will be given to schools as well as the students.
However, headmasters and teachers have urged the department to ensure proper water connection in schools and the salaries of sanitary workers increased as, they said, these are the basis for keeping the schools clean. In the letter, school education secretary Kakarla Usha cited that during visits, the officials had found used or broken materials and construction debris on school premises.
The letter also suggests forming a district-level committee with the district collector as the chairperson, chief educational officer as the member-secretary, district forest officer, project director of district rural development agency, commissioner of corporation/municipality, joint director (agriculture), deputy director (health services), deputy director (horticulture), assistant director (panchayat), assistant director of town panchayat and two representatives as members. This apart separate committees headed by block development officer at the block level and headmasters at the school level have to be formed.
A sub-committee with five students should also be formed for safe drinking water, maintenance of clean classrooms and waste management. Engal Palli - Milirum Palli award will be given by the district collector to encourage the school that consistently performs well. The students who contribute well will get Eco Star award while teachers will be given the best Eco Guide Teacher award. NGOs that make significant contributions will be recognised with the Environmental Conservation award, said the letter.
Meanwhile, headmasters at government schools said the funds that they receive to maintain the schools are less. “The rural development department is paying Rs 3,000 for the workers cleaning the toilets. In the case of schools in town panchayats, even that fund is not being given. The maintenance funds for schools with more than 1,000 students are fixed at Rs 1 lakh. The teachers are paying additional money to the workers to keep the toilets clean. There are schools where teachers are cleaning the premises after school hours. Where there are teachers who don’t want to work beyond their call of duty, the schools are remaining unclean,” said a member of Tamil Nadu Higher Secondary Headmasters’ Association.
Another headmaster said teachers pay Rs 12,000 to the sanitary workers so that they stay in the school the entire day. “Ours is an all girls school and we are worried that the students will get health issues if the toilets are unclean. So, the teachers have pitched in to hire a full-time staff. The situation is the same in almost all the schools,” said the headmaster. Introducing new schemes can only help to project the department better. It is necessary to solve the basic issue to ensure that the schools are clean, he added.