Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Collector's Daughter attends Village School

In Tamil Nadu govt school where poor kids go, a new face: The Collector’s daughter

Gopu Mohan Posted online: Sun Jun 19 2011, 09:23 hrs
Chennai : Sitting cross-legged on the floor with her classmates, six-year-old Gopika, a student of Class II, slowly traces alphabets on a slate, unaware of the attention she is drawing. She is a new student at the Panchayat Union primary school in Erode, the district where her father is the new Collector.Dr R Anandakumar, the young Collector of this backward district in west Tamil Nadu, enrolled his child in the Tamil-medium government primary school at Kumalankuttai, setting an example for those in the government to patronise the services they deliver to the public.
Last Wednesday, when schools across the state reopened after the summer vacations, headmistress S Rani was poring over admission papers after the morning prayers.
“It was a hectic hour. Many parents were waiting outside to enrol their children. Someone noticed the attire worn by the duffedar (attender) and informed me. To our great surprise, standing in the queue along with other parents was the Collector, his wife M Srividya and daughter.”
His presence created a stir — some teachers thought he was there on an inspection. “We did not expect the Collector to admit his daughter here,” admitted Rani. The district has 1,500 schools including three Central institutions and several private ones.
Of the nearly 250 students in Classes I to V of the school, there are no children of government officials. Even teachers of the school don’t send their children to this Tamil-medium school. Most students there hail from poor families, mostly children of dyeing unit workers, auto drivers, daily wage labourers and weavers who need the free noon meal, uniform and textbooks.
Anandakumar refused to comment, maintaining it was a personal decision, though its impact was felt by the school as a whole.
As soon as it was known that his daughter was studying there, officials of Veerappanchatram Panchayat inspected the school to ensure that it had all basic facilities in place.
For those who know him, Anandakumar’s decision was not surprising. Having studied at a government Tamil-medium school himself, he went on to complete Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the Veterinary College and Research Institute in Namakkal district, and obtained his Master’s degree from the Central Avian Research Institute near Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
A university gold medallist, Anandakumar started his career as an Assistant Veterinary Surgeon before joining the civil services. He also received a silver medal for land reforms while on training as Assistant Collector in Pudukkottai.

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