Published By: Sukanya Nandy
Last Updated: September 05, 2023, 12:22 IST
The Bihar education department has revoked its contentious decision restricting the holidays that school teachers may take for Diwali, Dussehra, and other upcoming festivals. “The holiday table issued for government/government-aided elementary and secondary/higher secondary schools under departmental order memorandum no. 2112 dated 29.08.2023 is cancelled with immediate effect,” a circular published by the Director of Secondary Education read.
The Bihar secondary education department had previously announced a cut in holidays from a total of 23 to 11, causing a significant uproar among teachers in the state, who had even threatened to protest. As per the circular issued earlier, there was a major drop in holidays from September to December this year to make up for the academic loss.
Bihar Education Department withdraws the notice of reducing the number of festive holidays in government schools from 23 to 11 between September to December. pic.twitter.com/MtMXnZzmSh— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2023
Teachers reacted sharply to the new order, which was released on August 29. Several teachers unions also announced a state-wide demonstration beginning September 5 against the measures imposed by the state education administration, including a cut in teachers’ leave. Teachers were also seen wearing black badges to classes in various schools. Many teachers had even gone so far as to challenge the education department’s Additional Chief Secretary, KK Pathak, as per NDTV.
On September 4, a delegation led by Bihar Secondary Teachers’ Association president and former MP Shatrughan Prasad Singh and teacher representatives Sanjay Kumar and Sanjiv Kumar Singh, both MLCs, met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
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This is the second order to be retracted in less than a fortnight, the first being a different advertisement for the recruitment of vice chancellors, which was also revoked when Chief Minister Kumar met with Governor Rajendra Nath Arlekar, who is also the Chancellor of Universities.
“We (teachers) work 252 days a year, whereas the education department’s target is only 220 days. Despite being aware of it, the department lowered the number of teachers’ leaves. Teachers who spoke out against the department’s decision were suspended or asked for clarification,” Keshaw Kumar, president of the Teacher Association Bihar, told PTI.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also slammed the government for restricting holidays such as Raksha Bandhan, Dussehra, Diwali, and Chhath Puja. The education department explained that it wanted to hold lessons for 220 days in an academic year, hence this decision was made.
Meanwhile, the education department stated that the new academic calendar was announced owing to election obligations, law and order situations, holidays, floods, and other concerns. According to the schedule, schools will be closed on November 12 for Diwali on November 15 for Chitragupta Puja, and on November 19 and 20 for Chhath Puja.