Schools might have to stay open on June 21, which is a Sunday, to celebrate International Yoga Day. The state school education department appointed a panel on Tuesday, to come up with ways in which schools can celebrate the day. Catholic schools, however, have demanded the celebrations be held on Saturday or Monday.
A government resolution issued on Tuesday states all schools will have to compulsorily celebrate the day on June 21 to promote the importance of yoga. “Taking a note of the importance of studying yoga, it will be necessary for schools to celebrate this day,” reads the resolution.
Joint secretary of the department, Prakash Krishnarao Thube, said all schools will have to follow it. “It is not binding on the schools per se, but we expect them to follow it,” said Thube. “Just like schools celebrate Independence Day, they could celebrate Yoga Day.”
A 24-member committee has also been formed to organise these celebrations and come up with different programmes. The committee will consist of Uday Deshpande, from Samartha Vyayam Mandir, Dadar and other members, including actor Manisha Koirala, who had met education minister Vinod Tawde in January to talk about spreading awareness of the benefits of yoga in schools.
“The committee will prepare a plan of how to celebrate this day in schools at least eight to ten days in advance, so that we can inform schools,” said Thube.
Though most city schools welcomed the initiative, they were against celebrating the day on Sunday. “Sunday will be difficult for Catholic schools especially because we have church service on that day,” said Father Francis Swamy, coordinator of the Jesuit School Board and manager of St Xavier’s School, Fort. “We will be able to do it on Saturday or Monday.”
Others said this has added to the already long list of special days to be celebrated by schools after the new government came to power. “If we celebrate Yoga Day on Sunday, I hope it will be counted as a working day,” said Najma Kazi, principal, Anjuman-i-Islam’s Saif Tyabji Girls’ School, Byculla. “It becomes difficult to fulfil 220/230 working days required as per the RTE.”
However, some principals felt that having a day for yoga would be a futile attempt. “Some schools already have yoga. Naming a day and observing it once in a year is not a way to promote anything,” said Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School, Santacruz.