Within the village of K.V.Kuppam there are two secondary schools, the Boys Government High School and the Girls Government Higher Secondary School. There is also a co-educational secondary school in the next village of Vaduganthangal. There are private higher secondary schools in Vellore.
Government Secondary Education
Before 1986 the Government Girls Higher Secondary School was a co-educational secondary school, taking children from Standard 5 through to Standard 10. In 1986, due to the increase in female pupils, it became a Girls Secondary School and in 1999 the school was upgraded to a Higher Secondary school and now also takes pupils in 11th and 12th standard. There are now about 900 secondary pupils and around 400 higher secondary. They are taught in Tamil and English Medium.
The number of girls attending the school continues to increase but the school does not have enough classrooms and is in need of new buildings. The government supplies facilities like water and latrines but no money for new buildings so some classes take place in the compound. When exams are in progress other children have to be outside due to lack of room.
The government have allocated eight teachers for the size of the school. They give the school computers but no computer teachers. The school itself also employs ten qualified teaching staff, including computer teachers, in addition to the eight allocated but whereas the government funded teachers receive around Rs7000 per month, the school funded teachers receive only about Rs1500 per month. There is always a waiting list for these lower paid positions as jobs are hard to find.
Parents have to make a contribution towards these additional teachers. However, the government has a policy of positive discrimination towards those families that were previously outside the caste system. Parents from these communities (now known as Scheduled Castes) are given an allowance of Rs 1000 per year to help with education. The school must also allocate a certain percentage of school places to Schedule Caste children.
The pupils follow the government syllabus which includes Tamil, Maths, English, Science and Social Science (History and Geography). In higher secondary they will also study computer science. If pupils achieve high marks in their exams they may be selected for a scholarship to study further. Some castes will also be given financial help towards further education.
Some of the girls will go on to study nursing, teaching or engineering. 30% of them choose to study by correspondence course as parents are not always happy about their daughters moving away from home to study. Some will marry and if their husband agrees they may continue their studies.
The Boys Government High School is run in the same way as the girls school with about 1400 boys studying there. They face similar problems with accommodation and funding. At higher secondary level the boys can also choose to follow a vocational syllabus to study subjects such as crop production, radio and T.V. repair or auditing. If they obtain 1100 out of 1200 marks in their exams they will be eligible for a scholarship to continue in higher education. If they do not achieve this the cost is around Rs 600 per month which is too expensive for many village families. The boys’ school also offers teaching in English Medium but again parents must pay for this, around Rs 1000 per year.
All the government secondary schools follow a similar structured day. The day always starts with Assembly at 9am out in the school compound. The schools do not have large halls as in England because it rarely rains in K.V.Kuppam Block.
The assembly always has singing, news which includes sports achievements, a reading from the choral book by one of the pupils (like a thought for the day) and reciting of the National Pledge;
India is my country.
All Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I Love my country.
I am proud of its rich and varied culture.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall love and respect my parents, teachers and elders.
To my country and my people I pledge my devotion.
The Pledge is sometimes recited in English and sometimes in Tamil. The state of Tamil Nadu does not use Hindi in school.
After any announcements have been made classes begin. The day is broken into 8 periods of around 40 minutes with ten minute breaks morning and afternoon and a lunch break of about 50 minutes. School usually closes about 4pm but special classes and tuition take place after that. Extra tuition is considered to be vital to help children pass their exams. They are not allowed to go on to the following year unless they have successfully completed the current one. Extra private tuition is run by the teachers who charge for this service. It is not one to one tuition; the classes are still very large by English standards. If a child from a lower income family fails their 9th Standard end of year exams it is unlikely he /she will have the opportunity to retake the year. They are too valuable to the family as workers.