Mamata Banerjee declared a surprise “rain holiday” in schools on Tuesday after watching her “little friends” getting drenched singing and dancing at Monday’s Tagore anniversary function, drawing cheers from the children and confused looks from the school authorities.
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that confirmation came about the extra holiday being exclusively for students of the 59,000 primary and 15,000-odd secondary and higher secondary institutions affiliated to the state boards.
Once they came to know that the holiday wasn’t binding on them, the nearly 500 ICSE and CBSE schools across Bengal decided to hold classes as usual on Tuesday.
“We have decided to keep all our ICSE/ISC schools open tomorrow,” said Sujoy Biswas, the principal of Rammohan Mission School and treasurer of the Association of Heads of ICSE Schools in Bengal.
Officials of ICSE institutions in the city like Modern High, St James and La Martiniere and CBSE schools like Mahadevi Birla and Apeejay issued similar statements.
Mamata, who sang with the schoolchildren who marched with her to Metro Channel on a rain-swept Monday for the government-organised function, said the performers deserved a “bristi chhuti (rainy-day holiday)”.
The suggestion apparently came from education minister Bratya Basu.
“I have very good news for my school friends from our education minister Bratya Basu. He has decided to grant a brishti chhuti for schools tomorrow,” Mamata said. “Shob cheye beshi abhinandan chhotto chhatra chhatri bondhuder…. Otyonto borshay tara gaan geyechhe bhalo kore (My heartfelt congratulations to my little student friends…. They braved rain to be here and sang very well).”
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The “good news” triggered confusion among students and teachers who weren’t at the function. Many come to know about it from others or television reports.
“The official circular won’t reach us before Tuesday; so how were we supposed to know who the holiday was for?” said the principal of a private school affiliated to the ICSE.
Emergency meetings were convened in many schools and some principals contacted government officials over phone for a clarification. By evening, word had spread that the holiday was meant for schools under the state boards that had participated in the Tagore anniversary functions across the state.
A section of teachers criticised the decision, saying schools couldn’t afford to lose a day because some students had participated in a programme and got wet.
“Students are required to attend functions on Independence Day and Republic Day. Should August 16 and January 27 be holidays as well?” demanded Samar Chakraborty, the general secretary of the CPM-backed All Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association.
A teacher of a Madhyamik school in south Calcutta said the government should avoid announcing “sudden” holidays if it wanted the academic atmosphere in Bengal to improve.
“Ideally we should have a minimum of 230 teaching and learning days a year. But we never manage to get more than 220.”
Source : The Telegraph