Over a million Kendriya Vidyalaya students across the country could soon enjoy an extended weekend as authorities are mulling over cutting their working days and making schooling a five-day affair.
This is aimed at allowing students to “pursue self-learning” and follow their passion and indulge in non-academic activities. In a meeting last week, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan heads felt that five-day week would give “space” to children who, for years, merely get an off on Sundays besides the second Saturday of the month. “Keeping them bound to the school routine six days a week is detrimental to their natural growth of talent in various fields,” noted the minutes of the meeting (a copy is with TOI) that took place on Thursday.
The KVs outside India, in Iran, Moscow and Khatmandu, work for five days. “While the Western system of education is quoted and applauded in ways, the important aspect of giving autonomy to students to pursue their hobbies and interests away from the Vidyalaya binding is overlooked,” noted All India Kendriya Vidyalaya Teachers’ Association president A S Mazumdar. He added that there are several institutions that follow a five-day-week time table.
Most teachers acknowledged that such an arrangement would also reduce their work stress.
“It is possible for schools to follow a five-day week and maintain academic rigour too. We have always followed such a work schedule and there has been no problem that we have faced. We do work more on a case-to-case basis when someone needs more attention,” said Mumbai’s Podar School principal Avnita Bir.
But Bir pointed out that under their job profile, the KVS staff has a lot of paperwork to do and she was not sure how teachers would manage that.
When the recommendation was discussed with some officials, they initially shot it down and said that the proposal was not sounding feasible and that working hours for teachers as stipulated under the Right to Education Act had to be adhered to. But while the KV students have a heavier week academically than their counterparts in most other schools, teachers feel they too work more than their peers in other institutes.
After the implementation of the RTE, working hours for teachers have been raised from six hours to seven- and-a-half hours, a matter that is before the court.
Private CBSE schools too follow a five-day work schedule. When Mazumdar raised that point, officials hinted at considering the five-day week and that the teachers’ association would have to submit a list of schools that have the weekend off. Till such a standoff between the government and the Sangathan, there will be just one day a week for some fun for lakhs of children.
Giving school children an extra day off in the week can indeed help in reducing their stresslevels. However, if that is to work, both teachers and parents must bear in mind the purpose of the long weekend. If the school uses it to give a double dose of homework to the children, it would be defeating the purpose. Equally, if parents see it as an opportunity to squeeze in some more tuitions or extra hours of study on Saturday, the measure is doomed to fail. Ultimately reducing stress on kids requires a change in mindsets. Logistical measures like an extra day off or lighter schoolbags can help only if accompanied by that change.