'Don't reduce our Christmas holidays'

The members of Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE), a body that includes several Catholic schools in the city, met BMC education officer R Bhise yesterday at the Minorities Commission office with Janet D’souza, vice chairperson, State Minorities Commission.

Fr George Athaide, the secretary of ABE and Principal of St Michael’s School, Mahim

The meeting was to discuss the directive by Bhise to schools that asked them to reduce two days of Christmas vacation and add them as holidays for Ganeshotsav. Bhise’s circular came after members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena, the student wing of MNS, demanded that Catholic schools reduce two days of Christmas holidays and add them to Ganeshotsav holidays.

MiD DAY’s report on September 9

The deputy director of school education had sent out a circular to city schools regarding the addition of the holidays to Ganeshotsav, though it was suggested that the reduction be made from the Diwali or summer vacations. MiD DAY had reported about the last-minute circular (‘City schools unhappy with last minute change in holiday schedule’, September 9).

But Bhise had asked Catholic schools to have their Christmas vacations from December 24 - 31 (a reduction of two days). Catholic community groups were upset with Bhise’s decision and hence, had decided to meet him. The meeting was attended by Rev Fr George Athaide, Secretary of ABE, Rev Fr (Dr) Francis Swamy, asst secretary of ABE, Rev Fr Simon Lopes, asst secretary of ABE, and Judith Monteiro, Secretary, Association of Concerned Catholics (on behalf of community groups).

Holidays to stay
After the meeting, it was agreed that the Christmas holidays would remain as they were before, and schools could make the two-day adjustment as per their convenience. Fr. George Athaide, secretary of ABE and principal of St Michael’s High School in Mahim, said, “We have been given the freedom to make the adjustments as per our convenience.”

The members also spoke about the inconvenience of the two different circulars sent regarding Diwali vacations (‘When are the Diwali Holidays’, MiD DAY September 12 issue). According to the circular, two different sets of dates had been declared for Diwali vacations - one for primary and one for the secondary sections - which was a cause of concern for parents.

“That issue has also been solved. Schools have been asked to write to the BMC education department about the issue. Bhise has given us the freedom to follow the dates that are most convenient to our academic schedule. We are happy with the decision,” said Fr Athaide.

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