Civic schools in the city started a unique experiment on the first Saturday of the New Year: observing a “no bag” day. Students left their school bags and books at home and came to school just to enjoy co-curricular activities. Henceforth, all Saturdays will be observed as “no bag” day.
The move follows an instruction from Shivaji Daundkar, chief education officer, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), to all municipal-run schools.
As schools observed “no bag” day on the first Saturday of the month, fun, frolic and a mood of festivity were seen among students. From drawing competitions and craft and hobby classes to yoga and DIY activities, teachers and students were seen engaged in a lot of extra-curricular activities throughout school hours. There are around 289 PMC-run schools in the city, with classes from nursery to Class X, with an enrollment of over a lakh students.
The attendance of students in these schools has always been a subject of debate. Recently, even the zilla parishad undertook a similar initiative of ‘no school bag’ day and, hence, on a pilot basis, even PMC authorities have decided to give it a shot in a bid to better the attendance and have asked principals and teachers to give their feedback. Depending on the feedback, a decision whether to continue this practice will be taken.
However, the experiment seems to have worked. “On Saturdays, we usually have low attendance but when students learnt of the ‘no bag’ day, they came in large numbers, curious to find out what it means. The entire day we didn’t touch any books. Based on their age and classwork, we did drawing activities, made ‘best out of waste’, some physical exercises… The entire school was bubbling with energy and even we found it refreshing. We are now going to specially plan activities for the next weekend,” said Shashikala Pate, principal, Baburao Sanas Girls School.
Pushpanjali Athavle, in charge of Rajmata Jijabai English Medium School, Kasba Peth, said the initiative was started at her school in June last year.
“From the beginning of the academic year itself we are doing this and have seen tremendous improvement in attendance. Students enthusiastically come to school looking forward to what’s happening that week. As teachers, we plan activities that help us in taking school work forward or better understanding of students. Like for smaller children, using drawing to teach shapes and colours, or making maths interactive through fun games and activities and such things,” she said.