Nachiappa and I visited Thai Tamil Palli (Thai Tamil Nursery and Primary school) in Kottaipattinam on June 16, 2011. We were in Kottaipattinam from 9 am to 3 pm and met Mr. Ramanathan, School Correspondent (from 1999). Mr Ramanathan is a social activist and started the school as part of state-wide initiative by Tamil activists in 1999. The schools functions under Matriculation school registration.
Mr. M Suresh, MA, B Ed., is the Head Master of the School. He joined the school this academic year. We had a meeting with six teachers of UKG (Malar), 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th standards. Also spoke to two teachers taking care of LKG (Mottu) class. The school was started in 1999 and got government approval in 2002 (for 3 years). Extensions for 2005-08, 2008-11 are applied for with application fees paid into state treasury. Next extension is due this year. We took the copies of registration and of the extension records. The school was set up under Pavendar Kalvi Arakattalai. The school is under sole control of Mr. Ramanathan, as other trustees and directors moved on. We took a photocopy of the Trust Deed.
We met a few parents living in the surrounding areas. Most of the parents are satisfied with the school and are proud of sending their children to this school (rather than an English Medium Matriculation school near by). We met a father who sent his child to Government school not being able to afford the monthly fees. All the households are poor. A couple of house we entered are one room homes. The parents of children are fishing workers or other wage earners. Accounts are maintained in a Daily Ledger format where all income and expenditure are recorded date wise. We took the photocopies of last 3 months accounts..
Teachers are paid on average Rs 1,500 per month. Tuition fees collected from children is Rs 100/- per month (slightly higher for higher standards). There seem to be a great deal of leniency in collecting fees and collecting it on time. As a result salary payment to teachers also is erratic with payments of Rs 500 spread over the month. The salary level is lower compared to the nearby English medium schools. In spite of this, five of the teachers are with the school for the last 5+ years. Others are here for 2+ years.
The school building is renovated with tile roof after the Kumbakonam fire accident in 2005 (previously they also had thatched roof sheds). The schools premises and building are taken for rent (Rs 2,000 per month rent). The school does not have computer facilities or other learning aids. Black painted wall areas serve as blackboards.
We showed the Humming Bird documentary in the laptop to 4th/5th standard children and 2nd/3rd standard children. It was a welcome diversion to children and teachers alike.
We came away with a very good understanding of the current status of Thai Tamil Palli.