The state government issued a government resolution (GR) Tuesday clarifying that school managements and parent-teacher associations (PTA) could decide on the dates and duration of festival holidays, while ensuring that the mandatory academic calendar was not disturbed.
In effect, this means all schools’ short holiday for the festival season will not coincide. This ends the suspense regarding holidays for Ganesh Chaturthi and other festivals, a demand by political and religious organisations.
The Department of School Education has said no demands for including permanent festival holidays in the academic year will be entertained henceforth.
According to the GR, as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, schools are required to have 230 academic days.
Holidays cannot exceed 73 days in an academic year. The GR also says schools must have an active PTA that can decide on this short-term vacation.
The government resolution also directs the regional education and state board offices to ensure that unit tests and term exams do not coincide with festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Eid or Paryushan.
An official from the department said issuing such a GR was important as there had been requests from various organisations for holidays during different festivals, including Ganpati, Bakreid, Paryushan and so on.
The principal of a convent school said, “It was just because we protested last year that this decision has been taken. The school education department would have otherwise announced a five to six-day vacation for Ganesh Chaturthi, forcing Catholic schools to cut short the Christmas vacation.”
In 2013, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena asked Thane’s education department to announce six days of holidays for Ganeshotsav.
A similar letter was then forwarded to the deputy director of education, Mumbai, and the education officer of the BMC, who then approved a five-day holiday.
However, as the prescribed academic hours had to be completed, officials asked for other vacations, such as the Christmas break, to be cut short. This move was then protested by convent schools across the state.
In 2014, it was again the MNS that demanded a Ganeshotsav vacation. This time, the education department asked schools to decide between Christmas holidays or Ganeshotsav.
This year, the MNS had asked for Ganeshotsav to be added as a permanent break.
Convent schools had said that they would protest if the education department made it compulsory.
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