The Indian government is committed to ensuring universal elementary education (primary and upper primary) for all children aged 6-14 years of age. In 1982 the late chief minister, M. G. Ramachandran (who used to be a famous actor) fully implemented the Nutritious Meals programme for schools, which is usually referred to as the Midday Meal Scheme. This scheme has helped to raise the school attendance and thus improve literacy in the state.
Primary education in Tamil Nadu starts at Standard 1, age 6 years, and continues to Standard 5, age 11 years. A small minority of children still leave school after Standard 5 if the family cannot pay the additional expenses from Standard 6 onwards.
Government Primary Education
In K.V.Kuppam Block children are still taught using the rote method of learning. The curriculum follows the basic skills of reading and writing, maths, science, history, Physical exercise, etc. The teacher will follow a set lesson plan from Tamil state text books. The children repeat what the teacher has told them and are not usually encouraged to question or discuss the lesson content. Discipline is very strict and there are very few resources in the classroom.
The small village elementary schools do not have tables and chairs and the children sit on the concrete floor for their lessons. Text books are provided free, though there are not always enough for one per pupil, but pupils usually need to supply writing materials and paper. Sometimes chalk and slates are still used.
Private Primary Education
Most villagers are unable to fund a private education for their children but if they can find the money they will go without other things to give their children what they regard as a better education.
Some parents will send children to private nursery and primary school to give them a good start. They will then attend a government secondary school which is less expensive for the family. Children in private schools are taught in English medium. If the family do not speak English in the home this makes it difficult and the children are unlikely to gain a good understanding of the English language.
Private Christian schools are thought by some parents to give a better standard of education. The children of parents working at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore are given the opportunity of private primary education for a reasonable fee.