Schools across the country are feeling the pinch of having fewer teaching days as exams near because the new government at the Centre has asked them to observe different ‘days’ over the past nine months.
The latest on the list was Mother Tongue Day on Saturday. A CBSE circular asked schools to observe the day to promote use of mother tongues and Indian languages.
?This comes on the heels of National Youth Day to mark Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, Road Safety Week, Good Governance Day and National Unity Day on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary, among others. These have taken 10 days from the academic year, cutting into teaching time, schools said.
“As it is, we barely get 160 to 180 days of teaching time. With the new list of days to be observed, our teaching hours have reduced further,” said Father Francis Swamy, chairman, Jesuit Board of Education, which runs several schools in Mumbai. “It is not possible to complete the syllabus in such a short period.”
Some schools are making up with extra lectures to complete curriculum. “Students need at least a week to revise before exams start. This year, we have struggled to achieve this and were forced to hold extra-classes,” said Anjana Prakash, principal, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.
Many schools are now refusing to celebrate token days. “The CBSE board exams start on March 2, so we do not have an entire day to spare for such activities,” said Raj Aloni, principal, Ram Sheth Thakur Public School, Kharghar. “Even if we conduct a few activities, students will have to miss out on lessons for that much time.”
“Parents want revision time for students before every exam, but because of the increase in non-instructional days, we did not even get 200 working days,” said Vijayam Kartha, vice chairperson of Kerala Public Schools Trust that runs CBSE, ICSE and state board schools in Jharkhand.
“We had to work on the first Saturday of every month to complete portions on time.”
Even those schools which followed the CBSE’s circulars are frustrated as the list of special days grows.
“At first, we tried to keep up, but now we have stopped observing the days. There is no point in conducting token days. If the board really wants students to learn something, they should incorporate it in the curriculum,” said the principal of a CBSE school in Santacruz.
A CBSE official, however, said schools have the option of not observing many of these days. “The ministry of human resource development only suggests the activities to schools. There is no compulsion for schools to follow it,” said a senior official from CBSE.
But with the board asking for reports on the celebrations, schools said they feel they must comply. “A broad list of activities is given and schools are asked to submit reports to the regional offices,” said the principal of a CBSE school in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.?