Stakeholders Question New School Timings For Young Students

Stakeholders Question New School Timings For Young Students

The Maharashtra government’s decision to begin classes for pre-primary to IV grades at 9 am has stoked a controversy over the logistics involved.

Lavanya AhireUpdated: Friday, February 16, 2024, 02:52 PM IST
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Several Mumbai school principals, teachers, parents and bus operators have voiced concerns about the logistics surrounding the implementation of a recent state government decision to start classes from 9 am onwards for pre-primary to class 4 students.

“It is impossible for us to drop students at 9 am to school during peak Mumbai traffic hours. Buses are already running late, sometimes dropping students 30 minutes to an hour late. How will we manage to pick up and drop multiple shifts of students on time?” Anil Garg, the president of the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) told The Free Press Journal (FPJ) 

“A few schools have issued circulars asking for bus pickups and drops according to the new government schedule, but we told the schools that it won’t be possible for us to provide that without a hike in payment”, Garg added.

Problems in logistics

A majority of CBSE and ICSE schools in the city start their academic year in April. Stating concerns regarding the lack of time to implement such a big change in timing, Jyoti Nair, the principal of Arunoday Public School, told the FPJ, “We start our academic year in April, we hardly have a few months to sort out logistics of a change in our timings.”

Garg, questioning the rationale of the decision said, “Mumbai does not face the extreme cold or fog that North India faces. Parents choose schools according to their needs and job timings, a change in school timings would completely disrupt their schedule.”

Ruma Das, the principal of Pawar Public School, also said that most schools would find it challenging to implement a large-scale change in timings as suggested by the government. “In a city like Mumbai with space constraints and traffic, a decision to change the timings of around seven grades needs to be given time and a lot of consideration before implementation,” Das told the FPJ.

Parent's concerns

Principals also added that most parents were okay with students starting school early in the morning. “With a shift in school timings, students’ extracurricular activities and after-school study will also be hampered. Siblings in the same school will also have different time schedules,” Nair added.

Echoing the concern, Dolly Vishwakarma, a parent to a standard II student from VIBGYOR Roots and Rise School, told the FPJ that her children are disciplined to get up on time and the move can disrupt their schedule. 

“If children need more sleep, they can get it in the afternoon. They come back home, nap, and relax for a while and then they proceed to tuition classes. This will completely change their routine,” she said.

A supervisor from an aided school also talked about an overnight change creating havoc for parents who have had a set schedule. “Usually students are inside the school premises before traffic hours. Dropping students off during peak traffic hours might prove difficult for parents and school bus drivers.”

Rebecca Sarkar, a parent of a standard III student from St Lawrence High School, also talked about the challenges of a change in timing. “Parents manage their office timings according to their children's school timing. A mandatory change will be very disruptive to a child’s morning routine,” she said.

The decision to change the school timings was taken considering the changing way of life, and to address concerns about inadequate sleep causing health problems for children, both physical and mental, because of staying up late. Additionally, it was also undertaken to solve the difficulties that parents encounter with early school start times, such as transportation challenges in foggy or rainy weather.

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