Tamil Nadu: Government to provide free shoes, socks to students
Tamil Nadu government has decided to distribute free shoes and socks from next year to all government students from Classes VI to XII. At present, the government gives out free chappals to the students. The announcement was made by the state's Education Minister, KA Sengottaiyan, on. The move has however attracted criticism from experts in the education sector. Here's why.
"CM has issued orders to give shoes to government students"
In his tweet, Sengottaiyan wrote, "Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has issued orders to give shoes to government school students." The decision will mark an upgrade from the current free footwear scheme and as per reports, an additional budget of Rs. 10.2 crore has been allocated by the government. Currently, 58 lakh students from Classes I to X are given free footwear.
Free footwear scheme was implemented from 2012-13 in government schools
The free footwear scheme was introduced from 2012-13 batch, considering the health risks students get exposed to, like a hookworm infection. These Infections are commonly seen among students from rural areas, who come from a weak social and economic background. Since several of them often travel long distances under unhygienic conditions to reach their schools, they are more prone to such infections.
Experts said government should have discussed before announcing changes
As per a source, the school education department had sent the proposal for providing shoes instead of chappals to the state government. However, several education experts have criticized the decision and said that the government should have had a discussion with child experts before announcing the changes. They added that the government should have considered the climatic and social conditions of the state.
Maintaining shoes' hygiene is also a challenge, says Justice Chandru
Adding to the criticism, Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of Madras High Court, said that although giving footwear to such students is essential, the decision of whether it would be a chappal or a shoe must be left on child specialists. "Maintaining them (the shoes) in hygienic condition is also a challenge, as otherwise it will invite skin diseases," he highlighted.
Government should not mimic private school culture, notes educationist
Meanwhile, a prominent educationist, Prince Gajendra Babu, said that the ideal footwear should provide free mobility without covering it fully. "You cannot improve the strength in government schools only by mimicking private school culture," he added.
Tamil Nadu government has been consistently trying to promote education
Notably, this isn't the first step taken by the Tamil Nadu government towards promoting education among poor students. Earlier they had started: * Nutritious mid-day meal scheme. * Free textbooks for all students. * Free uniform for Classes I to VIII students, who have enrolled in mid-day meal. * Free bicycles and laptops for all higher secondary students. * Financial assistance for scavengers/sweepers' children.