Schools in Tamil Nadu promote honesty shops

Schools in Tamil Nadu promote honesty shops

A student walks into a shop inside his school, picks up the stationery item he needs, drops money in a box and walks out. It may not sound
unusual.

Here, he is not being monitored by anyone and not even CCTV. They are called “Nermaiyalar Kadai” and when translated into English it means “honesty shop”. The concept is gaining popularity and momentum in many schools in Tamil Nadu.
Such shops, which sell items like pen, pencil and notebooks, are being promoted with the intention of developing honesty among students. First such venture commenced recently at Erode-based Isha Vidhya School in a modest way. The institution, which is aided by the Tamil Nadu government, has over 600 students.

Now, more schools are accepting the concept and opening shops as they want their students to develop the habit of being honest and pay the price for the products they buy, even when no one is noticing them.

Isha Vidhya, a not-for-profit education initiative, works for the economic and
social empowerment of rural children in the villages across Tamil Nadu. “The practice would help develop honesty among students whether they are monitored or not,” said Diviney Aishwarya J, the administrative co-ordinator of an “unmanned” shop in that school said.

As in many places, students had to walk long distance to get articles and it was felt the shop should be opened. It is not for profit venture and investment is also meagre--amount ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000. The same money is reinvested. A teacher is specifically given the task to monitor the accounts every Monday.

Aishwarya told Deccan Herald that the students can also buy eatables and put the cash mentioned on the rack in the small cash box. “Sometimes, excess cash has been found in the box, which clearly shows the initiative created an enthusiasm among students,” she claimed.

Aishwarya said the school has created a significant impact on students and the local community. Her claim is backed by the statements of some students and
local leaders.

“After all the shop has been opened for us and how can one be dishonest,” asks Kavitha, a ninth standard student in the school. “It has shaped our conscience and disciplined us to be honest even when no one is there to monitor us. No one really believed that such a system could work. We are really proud of our school”, she said.

Taking cue from the Erode school, a school at Karumathur in Madurai district also established a honesty shop on its campus. This school has gone one step further. Besides offering stationery items and eatables, it has a general store exclusively for girl students from seventh to 12th standard. The school maintains all the accounts neatly, involving both students and teachers.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhi­yan (RMSA), a joint venture of the Centre and the State governments to achieve universalisation of Secondary Education and to prevent dropouts after elementary education, also plans to open honesty shops in 44 schools across the state. “All model schools in the state will get honesty shops to impart sincerity among studen­ts,” a senior official from RMSA said.

First of such project was inaugurated on October 2 to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

The school authorities have decided to make available stationery worth Rs 500 for opening the shops. Based on the requirement, the commodities could be increased by the respective headmasters, who have been asked to monitor the
proceedings and send the report to the Directorate.

In Chennai, Guru Shree Shanthivijai Jain Vidhyalaya School also promotes such honesty shops to the students at its premises.

Interestingly, most of the schools which run honesty shops, conduct special student interactive session when they find less cash in the box against the sold items. ”The interactive session always makes students feel guilty of committing mistakes,” K Maheshwari, a teacher from Venkateswara Matriculation School in the city, said.

“A few days ago, the standard V student was playing with his friends in our school ground when he saw a wallet with wads of currency in it, along with a PAN card and a debit card. Without thinking even for a second, S Karthikeyan picked it up and ran towards the headmistress’ room and handed it over to her,” she said. The wallet belonged to a parent of a ward in the school and it had accidentally fallen off.

“I am running a provisional store in my area. Influenced by the honest shop in his school, my son Sakthivel asking me to implement the same in my store,” K Mag­endran, a parent of that school said.

Tamil Nadu School Education Department officials said that they were studying the development and activities of honest shops, which can be implemented in government-owned primary and middle school. “We are seriously thinking of introducing such shops in primary and middle schools. A recommendation has been sent to top authorities for an approval”, a senior official said.

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