Maharashtra government directs schools to take students on tours to rural areas
MUMBAI CITY NEWS: But parents and schools are worried whether it will be safe to take students to such far-off locations.mumbai Updated: May 21, 2017 01:19 IST
To boost rural tourism in line with the new Maharashtra Tourism Policy, 2016, the state school education department has asked all schools to conduct at least one educational tour for classes 5 to 10 to rural areas. But parents and schools are worried whether it will be safe to take students to such far-off locations.
A government resolution (GR) issued by the department on Saturday gives permission to schools of all mediums and boards-including CBSE, ICSE and international ones-to undertake trips to rural areas that have historical, geographical, cultural or educational significance. “The destinations should give students an opportunity to witness first hand any historical or geographical object,” states the GR.
Education officials admit that the GR was issued by the department after the tourism and cultural affairs department requested them to organize school tours to promote rural tourism. In the Tourism Policy released last year, the government’s action plan includes that “at least one educational tour/visit to such units to be made mandatory for students…”
But the department has stipulated that schools cannot force students to take part in the trip. “We have issued this GR at the behest of the tourism department to promote rural tourism, but the trips must be organised only after taking permission from the parents,” said Suvarna Kharat, deputy education secretary.
However, parents and schools have objected to the government promoting rural tourism at the expense of students.They complained that taking school students to rural locations is risky and the GR is silent on the safety guidelines to be followed. “School children are too young to be taken to rural areas, most of which are far from the city,” said Anil Bornare, teacher at Swami Muktananda High School, Chembur and spokesperson of the state teachers association.
Parents said that the department needs to lay down safety guidelines before allowing such trips. “School trips to nearby hill stations, resorts have proved risky in the past, because schools don’t follow any safety guidelines,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, a parents, teachers group. He added that the department also needs to specify the amount of fees that schools can charge for such trips. “This is another loophole. Schools have been known to charge astronomical amounts for tours,” said Jain.