Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram has ordered that all academic institutions, schools and colleges in Pune district should be shut on Thursday to avoid any untoward incidents during the statewide protests planned by the Maratha Kranti Morcha. The District Collector also cautioned public about the possibility of disruption in traffic services due to the protests.
Ram cited the violence in Chakan, the damage to buses and property, and the rail roko and rasta roko during the protests last week as the reasons for keeping academic institutions shut. Authorities of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) confirmed that the university and its affiliated colleges will remain shut on Thursday.
But school authorities expressed their displeasure about the directive and pointed out that the protests in the last couple of weeks had forced them to remain shut for at least two to three days. They said they were lagging academically because of the unscheduled offs, and there was barely any time to catch up.
Many city schools, including St. Vincent’s School in Camp, have had to postpone their ongoing unit tests,
“We had to declare a precautionary holiday due to the Maharashtra protests tomorrow. We have also received an order from the collector. But the situation is problematic. The students from Class V to VIII, who had exams on Thursday, will now write them on Friday. Students of Class IX and X also have exams scheduled on Thursday. Instead, they will appear for the exam on Saturday, which is usually a holiday for us,” said Vice-Principal Father Anish K J.
Explaining the difficulties of rescheduling academic activities, Meera Nair, principal of Amanora School, said, “This is the second time in the last two weeks that we had to give a day off due to the protests. The unit tests are held in August and it is not easy for schools to reschedule their academic calendars. We already have one extra day off due to August 15. Last time we gave an off, we adjusted it against the Saturday holiday, but this weekend is already a working Saturday… even rescheduling exams is difficult for us. Our teachers work on weekends to plan future school activities and if we have to conduct exams on these days, we get no time for planning”. Other schools have also been forced to reschedule activities that range from unit tests to extra-curricular programmes.
“The groups calling for these protests should have taken the responsibility to say that schools and colleges can remain open and no harm will come to them. Why should students and teachers suffer because of political protests? So much schoolwork is lagging… we have already given three offs in two weeks. A school prepares its academic calendar a year in advance. With the existing holidays, where is the time to catch up because of these protests,” asked a school principal, requesting anonymity.