Children may soon start having eight-hour school days, if the state school education department’s new education policy is accepted.
For the first time, the department has recommended a minimum eight hours a day of learning for students, in a report it submitted to the human resource development ministry.
While the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, has put in place the minimum number of teaching hours, it did not specify how much time students must spend learning every day. Currently, most primary and secondary sections in city schools run between six and seven hours.
In its report, the department said many studies point to how an eight-hour school day helps improve learning outcomes.
It suggested the eight hours should include at least six hours of instructional learning.
“The school systems should revamp their existing administrative/infrastructure hurdles to comply with this norm,” the report read. “Tagline should read: 100% students in schools learning for eight hours a day!”
School principals, however, said the eight-hour rule is impractical for schools in Mumbai, as many of them run double shifts owing to space crunch. “Our school runs in two shifts, in the morning and afternoon, because we do not have enough room to accommodate all classes at once,” said Meenakshi Walke, the principal of the Indian Education Society School, Bhayandar. “Having each shift for eight hours will not be possible.”
Principals also said the eight-hour learning rule would be harsh on younger children. “Students in Class 1 or Class 2 cannot stay in school for such long hours,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, the principal of HVB Global Academy at Marine Lines. “It will be difficult for teachers to keep the students engaged for that long.”
If learning hours for students are increased, teaching hours will also be extended, said others. “Teachers are required to stay back for at least two hours after students leave, to plan lessons and for other work. Going by the government’s recommendation, teachers would then have to be spend 10 hours at work,” Pathak said.
The government has also recommended linking the no-detention policy to learning outcomes and setting up a career lab for Class 9 and Class 10, among others suggestions in the report.
“It will mainly be for self-awareness, life-skills, goal setting and rational, sustainable and informed career choices. This will help the child to understand their unique potential and reach it,” the report said.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The education dept will submit its new education policy draft, by December. For the full report, go to www.education.maharashtra.gov.in. Email your suggestions by Nov 23 to firstname.lastname@example.org.