MADURAI: It was a 'traditional surprise' that greeted the students of Model Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Othakadai when they returned to their classes after a gap of one-and-a-half years. All thanks to the headmistress of the school, S Sasithra, who spent from her own pocket to create a 'traditional games ground' on the school premises.
Ask the headmistress, she would say that the 'traditional games playground', a first in a government school, was created to help the students come out of the addiction to online games. "It will also help inculcate values in them, improve their concentration and hone their skills. The idea struck me when renovation works were being carried out in the school during the lockdown," she said.
The school now has special zones for playing pallanguzhi, chess, thattangal (Sotangal)', neerkodu and paramapatham (snake and ladder).
Sasithra said the online classes in the last one-and-a-half years have affected many students. "Now, after introducing the children to the traditional games, there is marked improvement. Every day, Class IX to XII students have a library hour or music class. And, at that time, 20 students are allowed to play these traditional games," she said.
Speaking to TNIE, R Thenmozhi, a student of Class X and a dîstrict-level chess player said she really enjoys playing chess in the open, under the shade of the trees amid the birds and squirrels in the background.
"Playing Pallanguzhi helps improve our mathematical skills. For us, these games are a stress buster," she said.
Another girl, T Kiruthika, studying in class 10, said that playing Thattangal helps improve quick hand-eye coordination and enhances concentration. "Snake and ladder indirectly teaches us a very valuable lesson - When we are at a height there is always a chance to fall. With our efforts and hardwork we can climb to the height again. This is not just a game, it is teaching us life skills," she added.