Schools, under pressure to complete syllabus, take the risk of making children travel on rainy days

Sunday's incident in which a private van, transporting 20 students to a special class in a school at Panchetti, near Ponneri, overturned has brought to the fore various issues. How many rainy day holidays should schools continue to get and the poor road infrastructure connecting schools or in some cases even the campus itself.

For schools, this also brings about the dilemma arising out of the pressure to complete the syllabus and the risk involved in making children travel on rainy days. In Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, the schools have got at least six holidays due to rains so far this year. While there are schools that are forced to declare more than the announced number of holidays if the rainwater shows little signs of receding, some institutions say not all rainy day leaves are called for.

School affiliated to the State government have reasons to be anxious than the previous years.

The academic year started over a month late this time and the delay in getting the new ‘Samacheer Kalvi' textbooks have put more pressure on the teachers, students and parents about completing the syllabus on time. In fact, many private schools conducted classes for classes X and XII on days when the district authorities declared a holiday in view of the rains.

The syllabus is complete but much of revision classes and tests begin now, so it is important to attend, say a group of class XII students of a private matriculation school in Perungundi, which had classes on Monday.

With a new syllabus, many schools say it is a challenge completing portions as teachers also need to prepare the lessons. The monsoon has added to their anxiety.

“Every year, if I generally complete the class X syllabus by December third week, this time it will take me middle of January to finish the portions if I even count Saturday as a working day,” says a government school mathematics teachers. This year it has been difficult to plan the academic year, he said, adding: “We could have had classes on Monday as it did not rain much in the city.”

Some schools are of the opinion that autonomy can be given to school management to decide whether to declare a day as a holiday or not. Monsoon management is not a big challenge for schools in Kerala.

As A. Shajahan, Director Public Instruction, Kerala, says: “This time we would have declared just one day holiday for the monsoon that too if due to a flood like situation. In districts such as Allepey where some areas are low-lying the headmaster can take a call in consultation with the district officials.”

B. Vaithegi, kindergarten parent of a child studying in an ICSE school, says: “In Puducherry where I studied, I do not remember getting more than two monsoon holidays in a year.

The water never stagnates, the city planning was so good.” But, every rain in the city I fear sending my son to school as the playground is water logged, she adds. With the State's unpredictable monsoon, experts say the lesson for schools is to plan the academic year in advance.

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