Schools in Mumbai that are open for five days a week in Mumbai may have to remain open for six days a week in the coming academic year. The state education department said all schools must have 220 working days for Classes 1 to 8 and 230 days for Classes 9 and 10 this academic year onwards. The schools, most of which have less than 200 working days in an academic year, are wondering how to meet the target because most of them follow a five-day week.
Last week, the education department issued circulars to all schools reminding them they will have to fulfil the rule about the minimum number of working days as stipulated by the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. “Schools have been taking this rule lightly, we are reminding them that it is compulsory,” said BB Chavan, education inspector (south zone). “If we receive any complaints this year regarding schools flouting this rule, we will ask them for a clarification and even issue show-cause notices.”
Until now, schools following a five-day week were making up for the required working days by holding extra classes on other days. “We suggest that schools either reduce the period of long-vacations or follow a six-day week. Anglo-Indian schools having Thursdays off, can hold non-teaching activities for a few hours on those days,” said Chavan. “Principals are at liberty to decide how they want to do it.”
Some schools said they will have additional working days from the next academic year (June for SSC board schools) to meet the target. “We are adding two working Saturdays every month from this year,” said Najma Kazi, principal, Anjuman-I-Islam’s Saif Tyabji Girls School, Byculla. “This will help us in meeting the working days for primary school. For Class 9 and 10 we conduct extra classes, so it won’t be a problem.”
But others school said it will be impossible to accommodate more than 200 working days in an academic year. “If you deduct public holidays and other vacations, schools have only 193 days left,” said Uday Nare, a teacher from Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri. “Even if we keep a few working Saturdays, we cannot fulfil the required days.”
Principals of non-state board schools said the department should have informed them earlier, as their new academic year began in March. “We have already planned our academic calendar,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines, which follows the ICSE curriculum.
Pathak said besides vacations and weekends, schools also have to give impromptu holidays during the monsoon season or because of some other emergency. “The department should emphasise on fulfilling the required working hours and not days.”