Following an uproar, the Maharashtra Government on Wednesday withdrew a controversial circular extending school working days by over a month — barely 24 hours after it was issued.
Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the notification of the Maharashtra Academic Authority, Pune, stood withdrawn and Class I to IX students would not be required to attend school till April 30.
"The notification stands withdrawn… and the decision of MAA has been cancelled. If needed, we shall consider it next year," Mr Tawde announced in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Strongly opposing the notification, Mumbai Principals Association Secretary Prashant Redij sought to know "what was the need to implement a Government Resolution of 2006-2007 after so many years and that too at the last minute".
"Lakhs of people have already made their bookings to travel outstation for summer vacations, their families have taken leave coinciding with the students' vacation period and this will create havoc with their plans… What was the need for such a hasty move… Sufficient notice should have been given for it," Redij told media persons here.
However, defending the notification, MAA Director Sunil Magar said it was issued as per a Government Resolution and was perfectly in order, though there were some misconceptions about it.
"It is not curtailing school vacations or extending school working hours in any manner, but only seeks to implement conducting workshops, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the students," Magar told the newsmen.
As per the MAA notification dated March 26 which reached schools across the state on Tuesday, schools were required to conduct summer camps, educational workshops, interactive sessions for students to brush up on their academics and arranging educational film shows.
Besides, it listed story-telling, dramatics, poetry and reading sessions, study of the local environment and flora-fauna, painting competitions on major themes of the last academic year, with the help of local artisans to take part in art and artistic activities (singing/dancing/music/folk culture), sports and games.
The notification also (helpfully) provided the details of activities to be undertaken by the students from Class I-III and for Class IV-IX.
Redij said all this was purportedly applicable only to students pursuing the State Board, but by implication all others like ICSE, CBSE would also fall in line.
"In rural areas, the heat is killing and it would be torturous for the students to go to school for such activities, more than a month after their annual examinations are over. Plus, many mofussil schools lack adequate drinking water and other amenities, unlike big cities," he pointed out.
However, now that the Education Minister has personally intervened to cancel it, Redij said schools, parents and children can heave a sigh of relief.