In a swift about-face, the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government has revoked a contentious notification that drastically reduced the number of school holidays from 23 to a mere 11 between September and December, encompassing the Diwali and Chhath Puja festivals. This U-turn follows an uproar and imminent statewide protests threatened by teacher’s associations in Bihar, slated to commence on September 5.
The recent move to slash school holidays had prompted widespread criticism, prompting the state education ministry to release a statement announcing the withdrawal of the revised holiday reduction notification, which had been issued on August 29.
The initial motivation behind this holiday calendar overhaul was to align with the Right to Education Act and maximize instructional days in primary and middle schools across the state. Under the revised notification, the tally of festival holidays was slashed from 23 to 11, effectively altering the traditional holiday landscape.
This contentious decision aimed to standardize holiday schedules statewide, albeit permitting district education officers to declare supplementary holidays with prior approval from the department.
The most significant changes centered around reducing Durga Puja holidays from six days to a mere three and allotting a single day off for Diwali, specifically on November 12. Moreover, Chitragupta Puja was allocated a solitary holiday on November 15, while the cherished Chhath Puja was condensed to a two-day affair on November 19 and 20, diverging from the customary nine-day observance.
Critics of this measure contended that despite the holiday curtailment, school attendance would dwindle, placing a heavier teaching burden on educators. Responding to the backlash, Nitish Kumar, Bihar’s Chief Minister, defended the move, asserting that it was intended to prioritize children’s education by ensuring timely and comprehensive instruction.
This swift policy reversal reflects the government’s responsiveness to public sentiment, especially in matters pertaining to education, and underscores the significance of striking a delicate balance between academic rigor and cultural observance during festive seasons.