Even as the state education department is struggling to bring about clarity on the Ganesh festival holidays, schools are already worried that they might have to forego some holidays from the Diwali and Christmas vacations; many are worried about over-shooting the compulsion of 200-220 working days in an academic year.

At present, the office of the deputy director of school education has requested authorities in the state education department to decide on whether schools should declare a mini-break of five days for Ganesh Chaturthi; they are also insisting that schools will have to declare holidays keeping in mind the framework as laid down by the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

“Since we got a request to declare a five-day break for all school children for Ganesh Festival, the same request has been forwarded to higher authorities and their replies are awaited. Meanwhile some schools have declared holidays and we hope they compensate for the loss of working hours,” said B B Chavan, (in-charge) deputy director of school education.

He added that schools will be reminded of the RTE rule that clearly states a set number of days that schools need to be functional every academic year. The education department itself makes a list of compulsory and other holidays (including vacations) that schools have to follow and according to this, schools have to be functional for 180 working days every year.

However, after the implementation of the RTE Act, schools have been regularly filling a form that is submitted to the education department, in order to determine if the schools are following all the rules of RTE. Education officials pointed out that most schools are flouting the norm on the required working days — which according to RTE stands at 200 for classes I to V and 220 days for classes VI to VIII.

Work, work
Schools highlighted how most institutes follow a five-day week, making it impossible to follow 220 working days in a year. “Since Ganesh Chaturthi falls on a Thursday, and most schools have weekends off, we’ve decided to give an extra holiday only on Friday so students can have a small break from Thursday to Monday,” said Ramakant Pandey, principal of Bansidhar Aggarwal School, Wadala.

He added that the school has decided to make up for the extra holiday by conducting lectures on any one of the ‘discretional holidays’ that the schools can decide for themselves. However, some schools are worried about having to sacrifice on other vacation periods in the year.

“Last year too the government had left it to the schools to decide on the holidays but to make sure that we don’t overshoot the compulsory number of working days. Many schools ended up holding extra lectures on Saturday and this didn’t go down well with parents. We (schools) are at the receiving end always,” said another principal of a school in Kurla.

As of now the education department has not decided on Ganesh Chaturthi holidays for Mumbai schools, as demanded by Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS) members. The Thane education department, however, has called for a five-day break for the same period, stating that many students will be travelling for this festival and it’s best to stay shut so that these students don’t miss out on studies.