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Tamil Nadu schools cheer syllabus order

CHENNAI: The Madras high court’s order to the government to implement Samacheer Kalvi this academic year and distribute common textbooks to schools across the state by July 22 has given direction to how the school year is to proceed. Most students, parents and teachers are relieved as it means that they will be able to get the prescribed textbooks before the month is over.

“We are happy that the court has offered a solution to schools and parents, and that we will soon have textbooks,” said principal and correspondent of Everwin Matriculation Higher Secondary School B Purushothaman. Some schools said they downloaded the Samacheer Kalvi textbooks from the website and had prepared lesson plans for Classes 6 to 10.

At least 80% of the Samacheer Kalvi textbooks are ready and stocked in godowns across the state. While some schools are just waiting to start classes, others are still hopeful of a change. “Regulation and academic interference by the executive will only dilute standards and render students less competitive. The present government understood this need and encouraged a more careful implementation. The government should push forward its initiatives to encourage more autonomy for schools,” said S Alfred Devaprasad, president and CEO, Alpha Group of Institutions.

Asked whether the textbooks would be ready by July 22, school education secretary D Sabitha said, “The advocate general has spoken on this. That is the stand taken by the government.” Advocate general A Navaneethakrishnan said the state planned to appeal against the high court order and seek a stay. If the Supreme Court grants the stay, schools will be left guessing which syllabus to follow.

Both the Tamil Nadu Textbook Society and private publishers have spent a lot of money on printing books. Around Rs 200 crore was spent on printing nine crore Samacheer Kalvi textbooks before the academic year began. When the government postponed implementation of the common syllabus, it sent out tenders calling big printers. Thinking that the common syllabus would not be implemented, matriculation schools too rushed to place orders for books with private publishers at prices higher than usual.

At any other time schools would have been worried about the money spent but a month without textbooks has changed their perspective. “We hope that classes will begin right away. Even if there is a delay in distributing textbooks, we hope they are put online. At least the Class 10 books should be put up, so no more time is wasted,” said a parent of a Class 10 student. Parents of students in Padma Sarangapani Matriculation School rejoiced over the verdict by handing out sweets.

2006: DMK lists a common education syllabus, Samacheer Kalvi, in its manifesto for the assembly elections

August 2009: M Karunanidhi announces implementation of the system across the state. Neighbourhood school concept and use of mother tongue as medium of instruction abandoned

February 2010: High court declines stay on Samacheer Kalvi after matriculation schools file petition

June 2010: Common school syllabus introduced in classes 1 and 6. Implementation in classes 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 scheduled for 2011-12 academic year

May 18, 2011: AIADMK government stops distribution of Samacheer Kalvi textbooks to remove “objectionable content” May 22, 2011: Govt stays implementation of Samacheer Kalvi

May 2011: Batch of petitions against amendment to Samacheer Kalvi Act

June 10, 2011: Madras HC stays operation of the amended Act. Allows government to delete, modify content in textbooks

June 14, 2011: SC recommends formation of expert committee to review the common syllabus, textbooks

July 5, 2011: Expert committee submits report on findings to Madras HC

July 18, 2011: HC upholds Samacheer Kalvi. Orders government to distribute books to schools by July 22

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