MADURAI : At a time when call to preserve Tamil language is getting louder, as many as 33 private Tamil medium schools in the State are facing uncertain future due to financial crunch.
In the past few years alone, fund crunch has led to closure of 49 Tamil medium schools. However, owing to the untiring efforts of Tamil activists and generosity of scholars, 33 schools have managed to survive, but only just.
Speaking to Express on the sidelines of first State-level conference of Tamil Nadu Kalvi Iyakkam here on Sunday, Porkodi, headmistress of Tiruvalluvar Tamil Vali School, Chennai, said, “As most of the children in our school are from the downtrodden communities, we collect a nominal fee of `100 during admission. Though, we often face monetary problems in running the day-to-day affair of the institution, the generosity of Tamil scholars and patrons from aboard have managed to keep us afloat.”
Porkodi, daughter of eminent Tamil scholar-cum-poet late Peruchithiranar, who has been working untiringly for the uplift of the language and culture, said, “When I was working at a private Tamil medium school in Egmore, I promoted Tamil culture among the students like addressing the teachers as sister and greeting people with Vanakkam. This did not go down well with the principal, who sought my immediate resignation.”
Apart from forcing her to resign, the principal took a parting shot at her saying that if she wanted to promote such practices, she should start a school of her own. Little did the principal know that his mockery would give Porkodi the inspiration to start a school at Medavakkam in Chennai.
“We started it in a small way. At first, there were less than 100 students. However, we ensured that the children mingled with each other freely and addressed their teachers as sisters. We never asked for any community certificate at the time of admission,” she added.
The school provided her with a chance to eradicate casteism from young minds. “We never used to mention caste names of political leaders. Apart from the syllabus, we made the children read Tamil poems and ensured that they shared this with their parents,” she said.
According to P Varadharajan, correspondent of Maniammai Primary School, Madurai, it was in response to the burgeoning numbers of English medium schools that Tamil activists started Tamil medium primary schools in the 1980s. “The government failed to support the Tamil schools financially, leading to closure of many. I converted my school into English medium, however, I have not compromised on the dream of imparting the tenets of Tamil culture to students.”