A last minute circular to city schools and junior colleges to celebrate November 10 as Education Day to commemorate the birthday of the country’s first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, which falls on November 11, has sent the institutes running scared.
The Diwali vacation has already begun and there are no students or teachers around to mark the birthday. On Friday, the state education department sent a letter to schools and colleges, asking them to celebrate the birthday on November 11. When they realised that the day was a Sunday, another circular was uploaded the same day, asking the tribute to be held on Saturday instead of Sunday.
In 2011, the state education department made it compulsory for all schools and junior colleges to celebrate Education Day on November 11. The state uploads the circular on its website, which the schools keep an eye on.
As part of the celebration, a student has to read out a speech written by PM Manmohan Singh in 2011 on the life of Azad, which encourages students to emulate him.
The institutes must have believed that since November 11 is a Sunday, they wouldn’t have to hold the special assembly this year.
The circular that said the day must be compulsorily celebrated put them in a quandary since Diwali vacations had already begun.
The authorities blame the late action on the state education department. Baptist Pinto, principal of St Mary’s High School SSC, Mazgaon, said, “Though Saturday was our last day before the school shuts for Diwali, we couldn’t celebrate Education Day as we saw the circular on the department’s website today (Saturday).”
Echoing Pinto’s sentiments, Amol Dhamdhere, Secretary, Indian Education Society, said, “Our students couldn’t come on Saturday to celebrate. It is unfortunate that our system doesn’t work properly. The day should be celebrated but there should be proper guidelines from the government to the education department. This is the second time that the state has not made a declaration on time and the day has not been celebrated. We respect this day and the current lot of students should be told the life story of Azad. We request the government to decide on a policy and maintain protocol.”
This year the notification has extended to junior colleges as well, and not all are pleased with it. Professor Anil Deshmukh of Sathaye College, and the general secretary of the Mumbai Junior College Teachers’ Union (MJCTU), said, “Initially, the order extended to students in the 6-14 age group. However, from last year, they forced us to celebrate it in junior colleges. We conveyed our disappointment and asked to be kept out of the issue.
“However, the notice was sent to us again. But it came too late for us to implement it. A few teachers coming in and signing the register doesn’t serve any purpose since no students will be around to celebrate the day.”
Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum, said, “ The education department is to be blamed for confusion. They make mistakes and then send memos to schools.”
While the deputy director of school education, NB Chavan, accepted that the department delayed the process, he added, “We believe at least 75 per cent of the schools and junior colleges will celebrate the day on Saturday or Sunday. Our officers have called the institutes to notify them.” School Education Minister Rajendra Darda remained unavailable for comment.