Mumbai: In a significant decision, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday permitted all schools in the state to opt for a five-day working week from the ensuing academic year 2015-2016, an official said here.
Shikshak Bharati president and Congress legislator Kapil Patil said the move was applicable to all private and government run primary and secondary schools across the state.
"The decks have been cleared for all schools to plan out a five-day working week on a voluntary basis without violating the provisions of Right To Education Act. Since the schools have already closed for summer vacations now, it will be applicable from the next academic year starting June," Patil told IANS.
By this, Patil said the students, parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and managements will undergo less stress and tensions, besides releasing the weekends for extra-curricular activities by the students and utilising the school premises for other productive purposes.
Shikshak Bharati had been campaigning since long for a five-day working week for schools in the state as it could have several long term academic and extra-curricular benefits, he added.
Following detailed discussions held with Maharashtra Education Secretary Nand Kumar, the relevant orders were issued to the concerned academic authorities today, he said.
Senior office-bearer of Shikshak Bharati Subhash More, who joined Patil in the discussions, said the existing six-days working week followed by most schools with up to two eight-hour shifts was like a jail sentence for the students and teachers, but now the situation would change drastically.
Patil and More explained at depth how the RTE Act, 2011 did not in any manner hamper the decision of a five-day working week.
"This will prove a boon for schools in cities like Mumbai, where teachers, non-teaching staffers and students have to commute long distances by suburban trains or school buses and drastically reduce stress levels which would benefit all stake-holders," Patil said.
Following the decision, secondary school sections (Class VI-X) would work from 7 a.m.-12.30 p.m., while primary sections (Class I-V) would function from 1-5.30 p.m., well within the RTE norms, he said.