The wait for free uniforms and textbooks continues for the students of Forest Department schools in Jawadhu Hills, Vellore Forest Circle.
With the State government’s welfare schemes and benefits for the students of the Forest Department school not reaching the beneficiaries, teachers of the schools attribute the delay to the lack of coordination between the Forest Department and Education Department.
They also said the students had not received free uniforms for the last five years. They were also deprived of other benefits on par with other Education Department-run schools.
While there are three elementary schools, seven middle schools, one high school and a higher secondary school in Jamunamaruthur block in Tiruvannamalai forest division, Pudurnadu block in Vellore forest division has four elementary schools, two middle schools and one higher secondary school.
The Forest Department is running the schools with the objective of providing free education to the wards of tribals. There are around 5,500 students studying in these schools from standard I to XII. “Students of the Forest Department schools buy their own uniforms. They had been denied free uniforms for the last five years. The students of elementary and middle schools have not received free textbooks also for this academic year,” said a teacher of a Forest Department-run school in Jamunamaruthur panchayat.
There are 98 schools including 20 Adi Dravidar Welfare Schools and 11 forest department schools in Jamunamaruthur block.
“We have more than 60 per cent of the total population of the students in the hills. Most of the students come to school in coloured clothes and we can’t insist on uniforms,” said the teachers.
Teachers urged parents to buy clothes for children that is similar to uniform, so that it would look like uniform to school. “The education department stopped supplying not only uniforms, but also textbooks. We are purchasing textbooks from Tamil Nadu Textbooks Society in Tiruvannamalai. But they have started sidelining our schools,” said another teacher.
“The education department had assured us that they would provide free uniforms from this academic year but we are yet to receive even one set till date,” said a middle school teacher. After repeated pleas from students of higher secondary schools and parents, the education department had issued two sets of uniforms a week ago. The elementary, middle and high school students had been left out, he said. A Social Welfare Department official, who had been entrusted with the job of getting the cloth, arranging the stitching and distribution of uniforms, said the cloth had not yet been received from the government till date.