MNS wants 5-day school break for Ganesha, govt passes buck

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 31 Juli 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: For a second year running, schools in the city are roiled by confusion over Ganeshotsav holidays, thanks to the government's shilly-shallying. The state education department recently sent them an equivocal letter referring to the MNS youth wing's demand for a five-day school vacation during the festival period, but gave them no directions on what to do.

Last year, pressured by the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena , a circular was issued last-minute to schools to give additional four days off for Ganeshotsav. The late announcement had created uncertainty among school administrations, upset their schedules, affected the length of other vacations, and derailed the travel plans of several families with school-going children.

This year, a rerun of the confusion is playing out. The MNVS has rekindled its demand and the government appears unable to decide. Ganeshotsav begins on August 29.

"Mumbaikars celebrate the festival on a large scale. Many children travel with parents to their native place, so they miss school. Ditto with teachers. So we want schools to give a five-day vacation and the break to be made a part of the yearly academic calendar," said MNVS vice president Sainath Durge.

Earlier this month, Sarjerao Jadhav, director of secondary and higher secondary education, wrote a letter to deputy director of education for Mumbai division, saying that the education department should take a decision after considering the demands of various groups. "We just want that the schools should start and close on the same day and the number of holidays cannot exceed as prescribed (sic). The local authority (the deputy director and the BMC education officer) will take a call. Depending on the region, the schools might want to give longer breaks for different festivals," said Jadhav.

The same letter was sent to schools. "The deputy director did not want to burn his fingers, so he just forwarded the letter to schools and allowed them to decide. If schools are allowed to take the final call, most of them will not abide by the demand," said Durge.

The uncertainty has confounded schools and students alike. Some schools like Christ Church School in Byculla have decided to go ahead with a one-day holiday. "But we have not scheduled any examinations or activities around that time, so that our schedules are not disturbed in case of a last-minute change," said Carl Laurie, principal of Christ Church School.

Others are being more cautious. "The festival's first day is a Friday; it is followed by the weekend. To be on the safe side, we will give two more days off. We will compensate by cutting a day each from the Diwali and Christmas vacations," said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal of HVB Global Academy at Marine Lines.

Nearly everyone is worried about exceeding the annual holiday limit of 76 days. "There is no clear directive in the letter sent to us. We cannot give more than 76 holidays, which means we have to cut down on other vacations. This is again a problem," said Suresh Nair, principal of Vivek Vidyalaya in Goregaon. Principals of schools in some western suburbs will meet on August 5 to take a decision on the issue. In 2013, Christian groups were upset as two days were reduced from the Christmas vacation.

MNVS members met school education minister Rajendra Darda on Wednesday to put forth their demand. "They have made a representation to the minister. We will examine it," said school education secretary Ashwini Bhide. Deputy director of education N B Chavan and BMC education officer Shambhavi Jogi were unavailable for comment.

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