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Vacation fuss persists

May 29, 2012

KARACHI, May 29: While most private schools in the city have announced the start of the two-month summer vacation in June, the Sindh chief minister has lately asked the education department to ensure ‘even-handed enforcement’ of the July-August summer vacation which he had permitted 12 days back, it emerged on Tuesday.

A source in the government said that on the latest summary moved by the Sindh education department for certain amendments to the earlier issued notification of May 18 in view of the growing opposition from private schools, the administrative department concerned had been told that the chief minister had directed that all schools in Sindh be told to abide by his earlier decision which was based on recommendations of the education department.

Upset by the fresh directives from the CM House, the education officialdom held an emergent meeting on the subject, said a source in the department.

In the meantime, in view of the failure of the education department to clear the mess and justify its eleventh hour move to change the long-in-practice June-July summer vacation, private schools of every cadre and standard remained under immense pressure from students, parents and teachers. Following the vague stances of the education department on the issue of summer vacations, 60 per cent of the private schools on Tuesday circulated the vacation schedule favouring holidays in June and July, according to a survey of the private school management group.

A big school operating in Federal B Area told its students that the school would remain closed for summer vacation from June 18 to August 23, while another said the vacation would begin on June 10. About 25 per cent were those who favoured the government’s earlier decision of observing the vacation in July-August as declared by the government on May 18.

However, the May 18 declaration was not well received by schools, including those run under the Cambridge system, for various technical reasons and humanitarian grounds.

While the government schools were concerned as the good compliance giving institutions, a majority of the private schools had held the decision to change the vacation months as a highly belated and inconvenient order.

Talking to Dawn, chairman of the Private Schools Management Association, Sharaf-uz-Zaman, said that had the education department informed the quarter’s concerned about the changes in the summer vacation schedule in February, it would not have to face such the sort of opposition and reservations from teachers and parents.

He, who claimed to be a staunch supporter of the July-August vacation accommodating Ramazan during a meeting of the education department’s steering committee in February, said that had the education department acted in line with the minutes of the committee’s on the subject and had not sent a summary to the chief minister then the academic environment would have remained free of chaos.

The education department’s other mistake is that it acted on its own to address the grievances of “some big or foreign programme-oriented private schools”, instead of bringing their problem, that arose after the May 18 notification, before the steering committee on emergent basis, Mr Zaman added, saying that the action of sending another summary for a review by the chief minister was not required.

The delay in various official actions, allowing some private schools to implement the vacation schedule as per their ease had added to a lot of the controversy and confusions and finally every private school decided to go for their own vacation plan and handed over the relevant circulars to their respective students on Tuesday as well.

The education bosses after rejection of their plea and proposals by the chief minister would not be able to get many of the students back as several, according to their school management, have already left the city and can’t be brought back to the educational institutions to continue with their schoolwork till the end of June, said a source privy to the vacation plan.

After finishing a related meeting, education secretary Siddiq Memon, confirmed to Dawn that a summary for review in the earlier decisions had been turned down. “A notification of the department issued on May 18 with the approval of the chief minister that the summer vacation 2012 for all public and private educational institutions of Sindh shall be observed from July 1 to August 31, 2012, is valid and effective in all cases,” the secretary added.

Earlier, as per the earlier requirement of the education department, around another 50 schools intimated the private school directorate of the government that would be observing the June-July action.