At a time when the Puducherry government is facing financial constraints, the Department of School Education has decided to cut benefits to 32 aided schools in the Union Territory. The department issued a circular to this effect on April 12.
Director of school education E Vallavan said the aided schools will have to make their own arrangements for purchase of these materials for distribution. However, the first term books alone will be provided as the government had already placed order with the Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation, he said.
Moreover, the Midday Meal Scheme and Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme will be extended to the students of the aided schools as before, said Vallavan. The financial implication for the books, stationary, uniforms and footwear for aided schools students of Puducherry and Karaikal region is around Rs 1.2 crore annually.
The stoppage of free supply of books, stationary, uniforms and footwears to students of government-aided schools from class I to X for the academic year 2013-2014 has drawn flak from various forums in Puducherry.
Congress MLA and former Education Minister K Lakshminarayanan who vehemently objected to the government’s move, held a meeting with the School Education Minister T Thiagrajan and demanded the withdrawal of the circular.
Lakshminarayanan said that students of aided schools who are basically from lower middle class and poor families will be affected and hence the scheme should be continued. He said the minister assured to reconsider the demand after consulting the secretary, education and director, education, after they return to Puducherry from New Delhi.
Similar pleas have been made by former education minister S P Sivakumar, senior DMK leader R K R Anantharaman and state convenor of PMK A V Veeraghavan. They all have urged the Puducherry government to withdraw the circular and continue extending the benefits to the students of aided schools.