Work more, holiday less. This is the message from the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education as it prepares an annual timetable for teachers and students to cope with a syllabus revised after more than two decades.
At present, teachers have 80 days off, besides the regular weekly holidays. So, the school annual calendar comprises around 181 days.
The council, after rounds of discussions, has decided to push the number of working days close to the 200 mark by scratching out some holidays. And the axe is said to be hovering over the lengthy Puja vacations.
“The changes in the syllabus have been well received,” said council official Bipul Kar. “But they have also made it imperative for us to increase the total number of classes every year.”
Under the present system, no more periods can be squeezed in. “This leaves only one way out,” said Kar. “We have no option but to increase the number of working days in schools, by axing some of the holidays.”
The council has already identified the problem areas that may prevent the updated syllabus from being completed on time. The changes, according to officials, have been loaded with specifics that make it impossible to complete the syllabus via the “traditional short cuts” usually taken by teachers and students.
The first solution, adding around 20 working days every year, “should suffice”, said Kar, who was present during the council meetings at which the matter was debated.
“We are trying to reach a unanimity and the consensus appears to be heading towards cutting down on the Puja vacation,” another council official said, adding that a shift of the May-April calendar to a January- December one was also being discussed.
“The new syllabus is huge and the increase in working days will help us,” said Jadavpur High School headmaster Amarendra Mahapatra. “A January-December schedule will also help,” he added.
Teachers’ organisations are being contacted, say council officials, adding that the initial response to the idea of slashing non-weekend holidays from 80 to around 65 has been “favourable”.
Working in favour of the move to rob schools of some holidays is the fact that the revised syllabus has been welcomed by most quarters. “It will definitely help teachers as even the number of periods, to be devoted to separate topics has been mentioned,” said an official.