TN: Funds to be released to students directly for transport scheme. Headmasters raise concerns

The School Education Department's transport scheme in remote areas will transfer funds directly to the students' accounts. However, schools have objected to this method
Image for representational purpose only (Pic: TNIE)
Image for representational purpose only (Pic: TNIE)

While Tamil Nadu's School Education Department has released funds for the transport and escort services provided for students travelling to remote areas without bus facilities under the Samagara Siksha Abhiyan programme for June to September, the new guidelines state that the funds will be sent through direct beneficiary transfer (DBT) to joint accounts of parents and students, reported TNIE.

However, the headmasters of schools in hilly areas told TNIE that this is a circuitous process with practical difficulties. The department has instructed the chief educational officers to furnish the name of the child, savings bank account number, IFSC along with a copy of the first page of the passbook, EMIS number and date of birth of the student. It has stated that the funds under the scheme will be released directly to the child's bank account through the single nodal account (SNA), Centrally Sponsored Scheme portal. 

However, several headmasters and School Management Committee (SMC) members are opposed to this and have urged the department to transfer the amount to the school's account number which can be accessed by the school management committee members, headed by parents and headmasters. In a letter sent by the Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers' Federation to the department, it stated that more than 6,500 students in 120 schools are availing of the benefit in the Nilgiris district due to the lack of transport facilities.

For the months from June to September, the headmasters and teachers have pooled money to ensure that payment for transport facilities are made and children continue to come to school. There are several practical difficulties in sending the money to the joint bank accounts of students and parents, said the association, reported TNIE. "Most of the parents are daily wage labourers and they will have to leave their work for a day to travel to the banks to get the amount. In case they don't even after reminding them continuously, who will the department question," asked Dinakaran, district president of the association, in a chat with TNIE. 

Bank managers are also hesitant to open zero-balance bank accounts. Since school management committees are functioning properly now and they can monitor the amount spent for arranging transport facilities, the department should bring back the old practice, another teacher from Erode district told TNIE. Meanwhile, School Education Department officials said that the new system has been implemented following complaints that the money is not spent for the purpose. "Moreover, the schemes should be implemented democratically. While there are challenges and it will take time to stabilise, this is a progressive step to instil a sense of responsibility in every parent that they have to send their child to school. Assistance will be provided through the district collectors for the opening of bank accounts as well," a top education official told TNIE.

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