Schools can decide the number of holidays for Ganpati and other religious festivals after consulting their Parents-Teachers Association (PTA), according to a government resolution (GR) issued by the Maharashtra school education department on Tuesday. The GR also suggested schools and government should not hold exams during the festival.
The GR was issued a week after the Maharashtra Navanirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS) demanded the state declare a five-day break across schools for the Ganpati festival. “We had received demands for longer vacations for different festivals, including Paryushan and Eid,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary of the department. “Therefore, schools need to decide depending on their student population and PTA approvals. We cannot have a blanket rule for all.”
The new rule means schools can decide their holidays and change the schedule after discussing it in PTA meetings. The institutions only have to ensure the holidays do not exceed 76 days in an academic year and they complete the 230 mandatory working days and Right To Education (RTE) norms. As per the RTE Act, Class 1 to Class 5 must have a minimum of 200 working days or 800 hours and Class 6 to Class 8 have to meet a minimum requirement of 220 days or 1,000 hours. The state’s secondary school code states the number of holidays cannot exceed 76. “Education officials should check that schools do not break these rules,” stated the GR.
The GR also stated examinations conducted both by the government and schools can be rescheduled if necessary so that students do not lose out in case they are absent because of a festival.
School teachers have welcomed the decision. “Many schools hold exams during Ganpati and Diwali vacations,” said Uday Nare, a teacher from Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri. “This decision will benefit teachers and students as well.”
However, Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines, said the holiday calendar should be left up to the school administration. “If left in the hands of the parents, there will never be a consensus because parents from various communities will want holidays for different festivals,” said Pathak. “The school administration should come up with a policy and stick to it.”
Education officers must ask schools to ensure examinations are conducted on different dates and to create an action plan to help students catch up on the classes they have missed.