Sunday, June 19, 2011

That such a decision should even be news!

Among the nearly 250 students of this Tamil-medium school at Kumalankuttai, there are no children of government officials. But then, even the teachers of this school don’t send their children here. Most students there are from poor families, mostly children of dyeing unit workers, auto drivers, daily wage labourers and weavers who need the free noon meal, uniform and textbooks. Given this scenario, it's not surprising that the decision of the new Collector (senior most official of the district administration, an IAS to boot), to send his own child to the Panchayat Union primary school in Erode, has created ripples across the state.

Last Wednesday, when schools across the state reopened after the summer vacations, headmistress S Rani was poring over admission papers after the morning prayers. “It was a hectic hour. Many parents were waiting outside to enrol their children. Someone noticed the attire worn by the duffedar (attender) and informed me. To our great surprise, standing in the queue along with other parents was the Collector, his wife M Srividya and daughter.” His presence created a stir — some teachers thought he was there on an inspection.

Not that the district lacks schools; it has 1,500, including three Central institutions and several private ones. “We did not expect the Collector to admit his daughter here,” admitted Rani. But Dr. R Anandakumar, the young Collector of this backward district in west Tamil Nadu, has set an example for those in the government to patronise the services they deliver to the public.

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