After ignoring the Centre’s circular on Independence Day celebration in schools, the West Bengal government has locked horns with it over observing Teachers’ Day. On Friday, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee described the circular issued by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry detailing a fortnight-long programme around September 5 as “ridiculous”.
“We cannot go by their recommendations. The circular is ridiculous. The state government knows how to celebrate Teachers’ Day in schools. We have already sent circulars to schools, as is our usual practice, and asked authorities to celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner. Our schools have been observing the day all these years and they know how to do it the right way,” Chatterjee told reporters.
In a circular sent on August 1 to education secretaries of all states, the HRD Ministry had advised activities for schools to undertake during a ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ from September 1 to 15. It also asked states to report the action taken by September 15. “Photographs, videos, film etc together with highlights of the Pakhwada may be uploaded on the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) Shagun portal every day during the Pakhwada,” the Union government’s letter stated.
Interestingly, as per the calendar, activities are planned even on Saturday and Sunday. For instance, the HRD Ministry suggested that a meeting of parents and teachers be held on September 2, which is a Saturday, “to highlight the importance of cleanliness and sanitation” and a quiz be organised on sanitation. On September 3, the ministry advised, school teachers could inspect sanitary facilities on the campus and conduct a cleanliness drive with the help of staff and students.
On September 5, which is Teachers’ Day, the state governments have been asked to hold district/block/cluster level competitions for clean and well-maintained school campuses and toilets. That apart, the circular suggests that debates and painting competitions on cleanliness be organised. The government’s circular on Swachhta Pakhwada came soon after the advisory on how schools should celebrate Independence Day and the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement, with a suggested calendar for activities.
West Bengal had refused to follow the Centre’s advisory on Independence Day, issuing a counter-circular directing schools to ignore it. Among other non-BJP-ruled states, the Punjab Education Department said it is yet to issue any instructions to schools regarding Teachers’ Day. Himachal Pradesh officials said they had received the Centre’s letter but hadn’t decided so far whether to pass on the instructions. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who holds the education portfolio, was travelling, an officer said.
Officials in Kerala said they hadn’t received any instructions from the Centre so far. Telanagana officials also expressed ignorance.
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