Mid-day meals, free cycles and laptops are just some the ‘welfare schemes’ that have been initiated by ruling parties to ensure that students don’t drop out of government schools. But ever heard of gold coins being gifted to new students? A Panchayat Union Primary Middle School at a village in Thanjavur does exactly this.
The school, located in Thulukku Viduthi North of Thanjavur's Peravurani, announced on April 20 that they would gift a gold coin to every new student who enrols. And as a bonus, the school also plans to present the parents of these children with Rs 1000 as Ukkatukai (a sum to motivate parents).
A rather costly affair, this scheme was announced so as to upgrade the school from upper primary to a high school.
"A middle school can only be upgraded to a high school if 50 students study in Class 8. Currently, this school only has 10 students in Class 8 and to improve this strength, the school management along with the Parents Teachers Association and Village Education Committee launched this scheme," said R Sembaiyan, a block resource teacher educator from Peravurani.
The scheme applies to any student between Class 1 and Class 8. Not surprisingly, the initiative has seen a gold rush of sorts, with 15 new students enrolling.
The 15 new entrants were awarded gold coins in a ceremony led by the Additional Chief Executive officer in the school premises.
The Nehru Youth Charity forum was reportedly responsible for handing over gold coins to the 15 students and cash for their parents.
Despite the numbers, it may not be enough to upgrade it to a high school.
"Thulukku Viduthi has no government high school. The nearest one is 5 kms away. Efforts have been going on for the past 3 or 4 years to upgrade the school. However, they were short of the required strength," Sembaiyan added.
The 15 new students have been enrolled for classes 1 - 7. The Panchayat Union Primary Middle School, which has 80 students presently excluding the new joinees, aims to enrol another 50 children in the coming academic year.
"The school has 31 students in Primary who are taught by 2 teachers. The Upper Primary classes have 4 teachers who teach Math, English, Tamil and Science to a class of 49," said Sembaiyan.
According to him, most students in Thulukku Viduthi are enrolled in schools and there are very few dropouts. However, many students prefer to study at the private school located less than 1 km from the government school.
"Many students go to PKR - a private school and some of these students decided to switch schools when they heard of the offer," said Sembaiyan.
The school, according to him, is a high achieving one and clocks an overall score of 80 or 90% in Arithmetic, Reading and Writing.
"Every year talent exams are conducted for scholarships in Class 8. At least 2 students from the school win the talent test conducted every year. It's a remarkable achievement," said Sembaiyan.