Schools to remain close on Christmas, Smriti Irani clarifies essay contest is online and voluntaryhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/under-fire-over-christmas-day-event-mhrd-says-contest-online-voluntary/

Schools to remain close on Christmas, Smriti Irani clarifies essay contest is online and voluntary

Ministry officials, however, claim Dec 25 will not be a working day for students and that the essay competition will be online.

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In a series of Tweets, HRD minister Smriti Irani said all schools will remain closed for Christmas and the essay competition will be “online” and is “voluntary”.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development finds itself in the midst of yet another controversy with the Navodya Vidyalaya Samiti asking all its schools to observe December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day’ by organising various competitions for students.

READ: Uproar in Lok Sabha over ‘order’ to keep schools open on Christmas day

In a circular dated December 10, the Samiti – which falls under the ministry – has asked its schools to celebrate the birthday of Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as Madan Mohan Malaviya “in its true spirit” by holding activities like declamation contests, quiz competitions and screening of documentaries related to good governance.

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The circular also says as part of its ‘Expression Series’, CBSE will organize essay competitions on good governance on December 24 and 25, asking schools to “encourage” the participation of students in the competition. “You are requested to ensure that Good Governance day is celebrated in all JNVs under your region,” the circular states, while also seeking a “consolidated report” on activities carried out in this regard.

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Ministry officials, however, claim December 25 will not be a working day for students and that the essay competition will be online. They also claim all activities are voluntary.

In a series of Tweets, HRD minister Smriti Irani said all schools will remain closed for Christmas and the essay competition will be “online” and is “voluntary”.

As the issue was raised in Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “The report is factually false.” “HRD Minister Smriti Irani has informed me that no such instruction has been issued, no school will function (that day). Only an online essay competition…That’s all,” Jaitley said.

In a statement, meanwhile, CPI(M) has termed the decision to ask schools to observe good governance day on December 25 “offensive and unjustifiable”. “This is a crude interference in the schedule of schools which go on Christmas vacation from December 24 and is an assault on the religious right of the Christian community,” it says, demanding the withdrawal of this “communally motivated instruction”.