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State order to restrict offs in primary schools to 76 per year draws criticism | The Indian Express

The Primary Education Department has sent circulars to all district and block education officers to make sure that the number of off days in schools should not exceed 76 in a year — without counting the Sundays. The move has drawn criticism from educationists and parents, some of whom plan to approach the Education Minister to get the circular withdrawn. “The circulars were sent out on January 2. This is according to the Right to Education Act, 2009, mandate,” said a primary education official, who did not wish to be named. “The schools have to be functional for 200 days for classes 1 to 5 and for 220 days for classes 6 to 8 under the Act,” added the official. “The circular is not going to affect the Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools as they anyhow work more than the mandated number of days. This is because ZP schools do not have Saturdays off. Hence, we will not be affected by this order,” said Mushtakh Shaikh, ZP education officer, Pune. “Only the private schools will be affected because they have Saturdays off and many other holidays, which makes their working days go up to only 160 or less,” added Shaikh. The primary education officer said no school will be exempted from this rule. “This is not like the 25 per cent rule wherein the unaided minority schools are exempted from reserving 25 per cent seats for students from underprivileged sections of society. This will be applicable to all,” said the official. “Some ZP schools also don’t comply with this and give out more than necessary holidays. Action will be taken as per the provisions under the RTE Act against schools that do not comply with these norms. This rule will be implemented from this calendar year,” added the official. Mahavir Mane, Director, Primary Education, confirmed that the circular had been issued. However, the rule has come under fire from educationists, activists and even parents, especially since it has come into effect when the current academic year will end in two months. “What kind of circular is this ? What were the officials doing when the RTE implementation started? And why issue the circular when the academic year is coming to an end,” asked former civic school principal Jayshree Marale. Iklas Sayyed, a parent, said: “Instead of making schools a place where children should feel like coming back again and again, this move of making children slog for extra hours will only help develop hatred for education. The school officials should not implement this move,” he said. Civic activists said they will take up the issue with Education Minister Rajendra Darda. “We are sure the minister will understand the plight of children. Officials have nothing to do with the welfare of children,” said civic activist Shridhar Chalkha.
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