Calcutta, Aug. 22: Gone are the days of a long, long puja vacation for students of institutions affiliated to the Madhyamik board and the Higher Secondary council.
From five weeks, pujor chhuti is being pruned to a little over a week. In its efforts to increase the number of teaching days and improve academic standards in educational institutions, the government has taken a policy decision to clip the puja recess.
The vacation that begins before shasti, the first day of Durga puja, now continues till after the Kali puja, more than a month later. According to the new plan, schools will resume immediately after Lakshmi puja, about a fortnight after closing down.
Apart from slashing the number of holidays during Durga puja, the government is planning to reduce the number of holidays during winter and summer vacations.
Officials said the move follows a study that revealed that institutions affiliated to the two state boards enjoy more holidays in a year than most other schools across the country. In most other states, the study showed, the number of teaching days varied between 220 and 230 every year. Academic activities in schools under the Bengal boards were limited to a maximum 180 days.
“We can easily gain 15 teaching days if the puja vacation is curtailed. At present, all schools remain closed for more than a month during the pujas. There is no need for such a long vacation,” said Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, the president of the West Bengal Board of Higher Secondary Education.
In the existing system, all Madhyamik and HS schools in the state enjoy a week-long vacation during Christmas. “Even that is too long,” said Mukherjee.
The education department is planning to keep schools shut only on December 25 for Christmas celebrations.
Department officials confirmed that a meeting has already been held with representatives of various teachers’ bodies to discuss the new holiday plans.
The government has directed the authorities of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education to initiate steps to shorten the puja vacation from the next academic session.
The 13-member committee headed by Ranjugopal Mukherjee, constituted to suggest ways to revamp the school education system in the state, had recommended reducing the number of holidays. The committee also felt that the number of teaching days could be increased if academic sessions commenced on June I. But the government does not share that view.