How to create an ‘indefinite hiatus’ for your child’s school holidays
The first time my daughter was admitted to a school, she was told she could only attend once a week.
That was until she got home and started going to the toilet.
She went home and cried.
She cried a lot, too, because her mum and dad, who had also gone to school, hadn’t had to take her.
That’s when I realised we should all take a pause.
“The problem with the school holidays is that there is no such thing as an indefinite hiatus,” says Anjali Prabhu, who runs an organisation called ‘Delhi Youth for Independence’.
“The school holidays are only for families who can afford them.”
When the National Advisory Committee for Primary Schools (NACPS) announced a ‘holiday’ scheme in July, the idea was to provide more flexibility to families and to provide students with the opportunity to study, with no expectation of financial relief.
But now the NACPS is facing pressure from some quarters over its decision.
Its new chairman, M Venkatesh, is the daughter of a government official who is in charge of implementing the scheme.
“There is no reason why families shouldn’t be able to take a break.
But that is not a reason to impose this arbitrary restriction on them,” she says.
The NACS also announced an ‘extended’ scheme, which would allow parents to take the same amount of time to study in between the school holiday and the rest of the year.
But for those who have chosen to study the extended scheme may not be available to them, says Prabhus, who works with a group of parents to run a school retreat.
A child is only able to study during the school day, which lasts for an hour and a half and lasts three days.
That time could be extended, she says, if the parent’s circumstances change.
However, other schools and families in the city are not so keen on extending the holidays, saying they have been forced to adopt a ‘restrictive’ model.
The school retreat is not compulsory, but parents who want to take part are encouraged to do so, says Kavita Kulkarni, who is an advocate for parents in the National Alliance for Democratic Education (NAADE).
“This is the first time we are talking about extending the school retreat for the entire week.
This is a very sensitive time,” she adds.
On a recent Sunday, a group from NACES meets for a group discussion to discuss the proposal.
Some parents are happy, others don’t want it and others want it for their own child.
Kulkarnis group is planning to extend the school days from the current 12 to 14 days.
“There is so much work for parents to do, but for us it’s just about our kids.
There is no pressure on us,” she tells me.
“We just want our children to be able visit us and go to the playground.”
The idea of extending the schools holiday has drawn strong reactions from some parents.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that parents are being pressured into taking their children out of school to study.
And it’s not right,” says Prakash Singh, an activist in the Delhi-based NGO Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).”
Parents are being deprived of a week of learning and a day of relaxation.
Parents should be given a break when they want it, not forced to study,” he adds.
“We are not asking parents to spend the entire year away from their children.
We are asking them to spend it with their children and learn from them,” says Prubhushan Das, a parent in the state of Karnataka.
When I ask if the extended holiday was really a solution to the problem, he says, “I think it is a good idea.
But we have to ask ourselves if we want to put our children at risk, as well.”