Three days after his office added two extra days to Ganesh Chaturthi holidays for schools,school education director Sarjerao Jadhav said Tuesday they had made a mistake by giving in to political pressure.
Following repeated demands by the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS),the student wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS),the deputy director of school education issued a circular on September 7,declaring a four-day holiday from September 9 to 12,for all primary and secondary schools,including convent schools,during Ganesh festival. As per the original calendar,schools were to be shut only on September 9 and 10.
Taking such a decision under political pressure was the biggest mistake committed by the two officers, said Jadhav,referring to BMC education officer R R Bhise and deputy director of school education,N B Chavan.
He said the decision should have been left to the discretion of the school managements. There was no need for them (the officials) to interfere. Schools have to decide the duration of holidays. Convent schools,for example,give longer holidays for Christmas as compared to Ganesh Chaturthi,while it is the opposite for schools in the Konkan region. It is up to the parents to decide which school to send their children to,depending on their holiday preferences, he said.
Jadhav said the education department would now have to compensate for the additional leaves. Holidays during an academic year cannot exceed 80 days. To compensate for the hours lost,we will have to reduce either Diwali or Christmas vacations by two days, he said.
The education department,according to sources,is likely to cut down on Christmas holidays by two days December 23 and 31.
The move has not gone down well with Christian groups,which have written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,the State Minorities Commission,as well as to N B Chavan and Bhise.
In the letter to Bhise,the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC),Catholics for Preservation of Faith (CPF) and Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum (MCYF) said they were hurt by the decision.
This is a gross injustice to the Catholic-Christian community and to our institutions. The department,which is supposed to set an example of equality and justice in the young minds,is setting an open example of disparity. We fail to understand how it can bring happiness to one community while depriving another. The Catholic-Christian community is also an integral part of Mumbai and India… we feel that the department is giving us a step-child treatment, said Judith Monteiro,secretary of AOCC.
The letter says that cancelling holidays on December 23 and December 31 would cut into the time for Christian families to prepare for Christmas Eve and celebrate New Year respectively.
According to Monteiro,following the letter,Bhise has told AOCC he would meet a delegation of the Christian organisations next week to try and sort out the issue.
Despite repeated attempts,Bhise and N B Chavan could not be contacted.