COIMBATORE:From this academic year, about 12,300 students needn’t walk miles to school with the sun beating down on them, nor do they have to cross over hilly terrains lugging their backpacks.
The Tamil Nadu Government has decided to provide free transport/escort facilities for school students from 1,064 habitations in hilly and remote areas from the next academic year (2015-16).
The Department of School Education in Tamil Nadu had announced in 2013 that it might not be practically feasible to open a school in each and every habitation due to sparse population, difficult terrain and other factors. Hence, in order to provide 100 per cent access to children in school-less localities in remote, hilly or dense forest areas that lack public transport or road connectivity, free transport or escort facility would be introduced to ensure access to school. Subsequently, for the next academic year (2015-16) 9,510 primary students and 2,785 upper primary students in 19 districts, including Nilgiris, Tiruvallur, Coimbatore, Tiruvannamalai and Nagapattinam were identified as requiring transport facilities to access school.
The Central government through the Project Approval Board approved Rs 1.45 crore and the remaining Rs 3.18 crore was allocated from the State budget.
The School Education Secretary, D Sabitha, told Express, “Local autos, vans and jeeps from the respective areas will be employed by the school headmasters to transport the children. A background check was done on the drivers by the schools and education department officials to ensure safety of the children.”
While education activists welcomed this initiative from the State in getting children to schools from remote areas, they also opined that this was an ad-hoc arrangement and not a permanent solution.