At present, these schools are monitored by revenue department officials, who according to the study, failed to understand the basic issues related to education among the Adi Dravidar Tribal community and thereby the functioning of these schools.
The study also recommended constituting village-level committees with participation from the families of the students to monitor such schools.
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The study conducted by two NGOs — Centre for Child Rights and Development (CCRD) and the Resource Organisation for Development and Transformative Studies (ROOTS) — in August at 11 Adi Dravidar Tribal schools found that students from these schools were the worst-affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NGOs visited the schools in Vellore, Ranipet and Tiruvannamalai districts.
According to the report presented by the NGOs on Tuesday, it was found that nearly 70 per cent of the students from these schools had discontinued their education since the commencement of the pandemic.
The primary issue faced by these students was the lack of smartphones with Internet connectivity required for online classes as they don’t have access to the state-run Kalvi TV telecasting educational programmes.
The staff in the schools were not able to even locate the students from the tribal community, who had left the hostels once the pandemic begun. The NGOs said it was a sorry state of affairs as far as tribal education was concerned.
The NGOs also found that there was poor infrastructure in the tribal schools, especially the schools at Melkavanur in Vellore district and Karai in Ranipet district.
Surprisingly the study found that the overall decline in the number of students studying in schools run by the Tribal Welfare department has affected the primary schools while in the middle and higher secondary schools, students had enrolled for classes.
The NGOs recommended to the Tamil Nadu government to ramp up the infrastructure facilities in these schools for better enrolment. It also suggested that the dilapidated buildings be reconstructed, increase the internet connectivity in schools, provide smart classroom facilities and increase the money sanctioned for the school hostels.
There are nearly 1,135 schools run by the Adi Dravidar Tribal Welfare department, of which some have been operating since the last century.
A senior official with CCRD told IANS, “We have presented the report and let the Tamil Nadu government act upon it. The infrastructure in the schools needs to improve and Internet connectivity is a must if the students are to be imparted quality education.”