COIMBATORE: Could the death of a mother of two children after the branch of a tree reportedly fell on her at Lakshmi Mill Junction on Thursday have been averted?
The incident had taken place when the deceased, R Gayathiri, went to a CBSE school to collect books for her children. Now, activists are claiming she would have been alive if the schools had adhered to the government order and avoided distributing books for the next academic year.
According to sources, the government has not given any permission to open education institutions considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the State government clarified through Government Order (G.O.) 199 that schools should not seek fees from parents. School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan has also been requesting schools not to conduct admission until class X public examination is over.
However, violating the norms, many matriculation and CBSE schools are conducting online admission for class XI, collecting fees for next academic year and forcing parents to come to schools for paying fees, collecting books, etc., the sources added
A parent, B Aruna from Velandipalayam in the city, said, "While the school is yet to open, the authorities are forcing us to pay Rs 27,000 fees for the next academic year before June first week. Due to the lockdown, my husband has lost his job. We have decided that we would admit our daughter to a government school soon."
When asked why they have not registered any complaint, she said, "If we lodge a complaint, the school authorities would harass my daughter."
Another parent, K Vikraman in Thondamuthur, said, "To pay the first term fees of Rs 15,000 for my two sons, who are studying in a matriculation school in Kalikanaickenpalayam, I had to pledge my gold ring."
TheChief Educational Officer (CEO) P Usha, said, "Many parents are complaining against the schools but none of them is willing to lodge a written complaint. If they do so, we can conduct an inquiry and take action against the school."
According to the CEO, the schools are not paying heed to the warning issued by the officials for violating the norms.
The Tamil Nadu Teachers and School Protection Association General Secretary R Ramkumar said, " If parents lodge a written complaint, the institute will either threaten their ward or remove the student from the school. Even when CEOs receive a complaint, instead of inquiring, they sent a notice to the schools seeking an explanation. This is just an eyewash."
Regarding the death of the woman, Ramkumar claimed that the CEO can take suo motu cognisance of the matter and conduct an inquiry against the school authorities for violating the norms and issuing books to the parents during the lockdown.
"The CEOs have this power but would they use it? Can the School Education Department say what action it has taken so far against the private schools for violating the norms?" he asked.
The Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association President R Visalatchi has a different story to share.
According to him, the parents are willing to pay the school fees and hence the schools should be given permission to resume their managerial functions.
"Except a few, most of the private schools are following the norms. However, many parents are willing to pay fees for their ward. The State government should give us permission so that we can collect the fees and pay the salaries to the teachers."
Director of Matriculation Schools, A Karuppasamy, said, " We have instructed the CEOs to monitor the private school activities. If private schools violate the norms, the CEO will take action."
However, a source claimed that so far the School Education Department did not take any action against schools for violating the norms.