Patna: The Education Department of the Bihar government published a new holiday calendar for state-run schools, in which it has shortened the vacations for Durga Puja, Diwali and Chhath Puja, to increase the number of working days as stipulated under the Right to Education Act, officials said on Wednesday.
The number of festive holidays was slashed to 11 from 23 between September and December, according to the calendar issued in a notification on Tuesday.
The government also sought to bring uniformity across the state and asked the district education officers (DEOs) to announce additional holidays with permission from the Education Department, officials said.
Raksha Bandhan on August 31 has already been declared a ‘restricted’ or optional holiday, they said.
The decision to reduce the number of holidays is part of the slew of reforms that the government has undertaken to improve the standard of education in the state, they added.
The Durga Puja holidays have been shortened to three days from the earlier six, and only one-day holiday each will be given for Diwali and Chitragupta Puja, and two days for Chhath Puja. Earlier, schools had a nine-day vacation from Diwali to Chhath Puja, according to the notification.
“The Right To Education Act-2009 stipulates that classes I to V (primary) should have 200 working days and classes VI to VIII (upper primary/middle) 220 working days per academic year. But the academic activities in the schools get affected due to elections, political activities, festivals, issues related law and order, recruitment examinations, for disaster management activities, etc,” it said.
“Besides, there is no uniformity in holidays across the state. Keeping the above issues, including uniformity in holidays, in mind, the department has now decided to revise the list of holidays for the remaining academic days in primary and middle schools in the sate,” it added.
The decision, however, has triggered a political slugfest between the opposition BJP and the ruling Mahagathbandhan.
The BJP alleged that the decision to curtail the holidays was against the interest of Hindus.
“The Education Department is going through a state of chaos. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should immediately withdraw the anti-Hindu order,” BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi told PTI-Video.
The RJD, which is a part of the Mahagathbandhan, said there was nothing wrong with the order.
“The decision to reduce the holidays was taken with an aim to increase the number of working days in government schools. There is nothing wrong with it. The BJP, which is against imparting quality education to school students, is unnecessarily trying to give it a political colour,” RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwary told.