With an increasing number of private schools announcing holidays or shortened class duration due to the water crisis in Tamil Nadu, the state education department has cracked the whip. In a circular to authorised private schools, the government has warned strict action if schools use 'water scarcity' as a reason to stop classes, and demanded that they find alternative ways to acquire sufficient water supply.
The circular points out that these schools were given permission to run after the guarantee that they will have the necessary drinking water, bathroom and other basic necessities.
"But now we have learnt through the media that some private schools are quoting lack of water to announce holiday for students. Acting in a manner that affects students' academics calls for stringent action," reads the circular. "It is the duty of the school administration to take necessary alternative measures for water in order to continue running the school. If schools fail to do this, strict action will be taken against them. The Education department and district Education officers must ensure that private schools function in their districts without holiday over water scarcity. "
Over the last week, TNM has reported that schools were announcing holidays for a few days or conducting classes for only half a day due to water scarcity. With water tankers charging over 100% more than last year for transport of the essential resource, finances and availability of water have put a huge strain on educational institutes that have to provide water for at least eight hours a day.
Responding to the circular, KR Nandhakumar, State Secretary, Tamil Nadu Matriculation, Higher Secondary,and CBSE Schools Association said that this is an attempt by the government to threaten the schools into silence.
"They are basically warning schools against coming out in the open with our problems. Schools are not getting a regular supply of water and they are making the issue very clear," he says. "But instead of offering a solution, the government is clearly threatening them."
School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan had made it clear in a press meet on Tuesday that the government is not responsible for supplying water to private schools. "There is not much for the government to comment on it," he told the media.