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Ganeshotsav holidays leave Mumbai schools confused

The education department has asked schools to use their discretion on whether to grant a four-day break to students, as demanded by political parties

With Janmashtami gone, the focus is now on the much-awaited Ganeshotsav. And while Mumbaikars have already started preparing for the festival, barely nine days away, schools in the city are in a fix.

Without any clear instructions from the education department, most schools are yet to take a decision on the number of holidays for Ganesh festival. File pic
Without any clear instructions from the education department, most schools are yet to take a decision on the number of holidays for Ganesh festival. File pic

With no clear instructions from the education department about the number of holidays they should allow, the schools are flummoxed by the issue. “While, last year, even though we were not happy about declaring a four-day holiday for the festival, at least we had clear orders from authorities.

This year, the education department has asked schools to take a call, which is unfair,” said Fr Jude Fernandes, principal of Stanislaus High School in Bandra. According to the principal, since Ganesh Chaturthi will fall on a Friday, students will anyway end up with a long weekend, and their school might decide to add one more day of holiday.

Passing the buck
This year, while political parties have asked the education department to ensure a four-day break for schools, instead of approving the same, the education secretary simply forwarded the letter to schools and asked them to take a call.

Speaking to mid-day, B B Chavan, education inspector (south zone), said, “We have asked schools to take a decision according to their discretion, and make sure that the number of holidays should not exceed the 76-day approved holiday period for every academic year.”

Most schools, however, are yet to take a decision. “How can schools declare a holiday without any directions from the education department? Without any instructions from them, we have no authority to declare an off even in case of floods.

The education department should decide on these issues before the start of the academic year so that schools can incorporate the same in their calendars,” said Ramakant Pandey, principal of Bansidhar Agarwal High School in Wadala. He added that his school has not yet declared any extra holiday and would not do so unless officials ask them to, and would stick to the original plan decided at the beginning of the year.

Holiday Rewind
In 2013, members of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had asked Thane’s education department to announce six days off for the district’s schools.

After getting approval from officials in Thane, a similar letter was forwarded to the Deputy Director of Education of Mumbai and the Education officer of the BMC, who then approved a four-day off. However, even after the education department approved the holidays, it later rapped the schools for giving more holidays in the academic session than the number prescribed in the education department’s rulebook.

“We were in a fix as we were supposed to declare holidays during the festival and then had to conduct extra lectures during weekends to make up for it, which the students and parents were against. The education department should take these decisions at the beginning of every year, rather than acting on the whims of political parties,” said the principal of a school in Jogeshwari.

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