Published: 27th March 2018
Students at govt school in Madurai find free uniforms unfit to wear
The state government has offered free uniforms, in five different sizes, for the students enrolled under the free nutritious noon meal provided in government and aided schools since 1985
The free school uniform scheme implemented by the state government has not earned favourable feedback from the students and parents, who find the uniforms unsuitable to wear, either due to issues in quality or size. As far as Madurai district is concerned, 41,348 students (21208 girls and 20140 boys) of classes I to VIII have received the free school uniforms distributed by the government in the 2017-18 academic year.
While the purpose of the initiative was to make education accessible to children coming from poor economic backgrounds, the purpose of the scheme has been lost in the improper way in which it is implemented, feel parents and teachers. A headmistress of a government middle school said "There are nearly 150 students in our school in which 65 are from classes 6 to 8. Though we clearly mention the strength of students in each class who are eligible to avail the uniform, we are always supplied with either over-sized or undersized uniforms, contradictory to the figures which we give.
Due to this, most of the upper primary students in our school are forced to wear ill-fit uniforms and it grieves us to see the plight of the children. "Another teacher from Melur said that 90 percent of the uniforms supplied under the scheme do not benefit the students. Since they are unsuitable for the children to wear, many parents use them for pillow covers and for other household purposes, he added. "The saddest part is that some students, who do not have money to buy an alternative uniform, wear the ill-fit uniform to school which exposes their poor financial status among other children. This destroys the sole purpose of introducing uniforms at schools and causes inequality among students," he added.
Meanwhile, P Chandra Sekhar, a carpenter, whose daughter is studying in a government school in Melur, said, "We enrol our children in government schools only because we cannot afford to spend much for their education due to our financial constraints. But every year I am compelled to spend Rs 2000 to buy a uniform for my daughter since the free uniform provided to her by the government is entirely ill-suited in size for her.
Parents also complained that the free chappals distributed along with the uniforms are also ill-suited for the children due to which many children from poor backgrounds come barefoot to school. A government school teacher further suggested that either the officials should make note of the common foot-size or should transfer the amount spent for the freebies to the student's bank account. She urged the government to find a solution to the problem instead of wasting the funds on the scheme.