June 21, 2010

INDIA: Five grandparents ‘admitted’ to Chennai school

CHENNAI, Tamilnadu / The Hindustan Times / June 21, 2010

A school run by the Jain community on the outskirts of Chennai will allow grandparents of its students to stay on the premises. As a start to this initiative, the school has admitted five grandparents for the academic session that commenced on Monday. The intention is to allow grandparents to take on part of the role that parents perform.

The Jain Vidyashram, a non-profit organisation, runs the residential school that has classes from I to XII. The grandparents will reside in a old-age home attached to the school. Children can live with their grandparents or in hostel.

“The aim is to develop and deepen the bonding between grandparents and grandchildren, especially at a time when both husband and wife are working and can spare little time for their children. This initiative, the first of its kind anywhere has the potential to instill respect for elders in the children and would help in their overall development,” said S. Sripall, chairman, Jain Vidyashram, and former DGP, Tamil Nadu.

“As of now, there is room for 50 grandparents on the campus with facilities such as lodging, boarding, medical help and space for religious activities,” Sripall said.

On an average, a student’s annual fees, including hostel charges, amount to Rs 65,000 a year. For one grandparent, the charges are Rs 15,000 per annum, and for two, Rs 25,000.

The school drew inspiration from Jain values and culture, said Krishnachand Chordia, general secretary, Jain Vidyashram.

Dr Kamaleshwari Sripall, a doctor associated with the school, said the concept was a product of research into the joint family system and its breakdown, and was an attempt directed at reviving the “good points” of the traditional Indian family values.

The department of Jainology, University of Madras, did the research. Gandhian Surendra Mehta, 88, president of the institution, is the moving force behind the initiative.

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