Centre intrudes on school break by forcing Sardar Vallabhai Patel's birthday celebration

An abrupt notice commanding schools to hold a function to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel jolted staff from holiday daze, forcing them to get students to attend

Few saw Central government’s fervour to get schools in the city to commemorate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary yesterday as a call for celebration.

The institutes, shut for Diwali vacations, were compelled by a late-arriving circular to send their students to a commemorative event at Hill Road, Bandra on Friday. The turnout, expectedly, was poor. The institutes could not get in touch with their students and teachers, as they are away on vacation.

Rajesh Pandya of Teachers' Democratic Front and Anjana Prakash (right), principal of Hansraj Morarji Public High School believe the announcement came in too late
Rajesh Pandya of Teachers' Democratic Front and Anjana Prakash (right), principal of Hansraj Morarji Public High School believe the announcement came in too late

“The circular from the government came so suddenly that we couldn’t inform students. The notice, though, had strict instructions, so we called some of our students and asked them to attend the event.

But I’m not sure how many ended up going, as most were not in town,” said Anjana Prakash, principal of Hansraj Morarji Public High School, Andheri. “Moreover, since it’s vacation time, we couldn’t force students to attend the function.”

The circular, issued by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and circulated by the state education department, was first sent out almost 10 days back, when schools were already shut for the festival, and most schools had trouble informing students to turn up.

“We thought it was voluntary, but repeated reminders to ensure students show up for Friday’s function left us with no option but to contact them. However, it didn’t serve the purpose, as students couldn’t make it to the event,” said Ramakant Pandey, principal of Bansidhar Agarwal School in Wadala.

Many heads of schools showed their resentment at the sudden demands made by the government, especially the ones that eat into holiday time – such as poll duty for the recently concluded state assembly election.

“Teachers were anyway upset about election duty, and then the government expected us to call up students during their vacation, and hold a function at school. This is unfair to teachers as well as students,” added Pandey.

Teachers, of course, are grouchy over the brusque summons for one or the other occasion at their time of rest. “We were asked to work on October 2 as well as for Swach Bharat Abhiyaan and we could not refuse.

The government could have made this announcement in advance, so we didn’t have to make changes to our plans,” said Rajesh Pandya, from the Teachers’ Democratic Front.

Meanwhile, the University of Mumbai celebrated the birth anniversary of India’s first deputy prime minister as Rashtriya Ekta Divas or National Unity Day at its Fort campus. The event was organised by the Department of Student Welfare, NSS, Department of Life Long Learning and Sports.

“The day was marked by collegians’ ‘Run for Unity’, with more than 1,200 youngsters including 30 students from the North East taking oath to maintain the unity and integrity of the country,” said a spokesperson for the university. Government officials from the education department were not ready to comment on the matter.

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