Christian groups are upset with the education department for giving two extra days of holiday to students during Ganpati by cutting short Christmas vacation.
The education department issued a circular declaring two additional holidays (September 11 and 12) after the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarathi Sena (MNVS) demanded that schools in the city be shut for five days during the festival.
The two extra days were allotted by cancelling the holidays on December 30 and 31.
Judith Monteiro, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), wrote a letter on behalf of the Christian community to education officers. He said: “We feel betrayed by the department. It is sad that the education department which is supposed to set an example of equality, justice in the young minds is not only being unfair but setting an open example of disparity.
“We fail to understand how the department can bring happiness to one community while depriving another. The Catholic-Christian community is also an integral part of Mumbai and India and while the pledge in our schools claims ‘all Indians are my brothers and sisters’ we feel the department is giving our community the step-child treatment.”
The group wants the cancellation of December holidays to be reversed. “The entire week around Christmas is important and while we are happy that kids have got two extra days now, the department cannot discriminate against another community,” Monteiro said.
Ravindra Bhise, BMC’s education officer, has promised to meet the group. “We need to accommodate everyone and hence we will work out a solution.”
Schools argued that changes because of political pressure disrupt the working schedule. “It is good that the children are getting the days off. But had we been informed at the beginning of the year, we could have planned accordingly,” Father Bosco D’Mello, principal of Don Bosco school, Matunga, said. “Sudden holidays disrupt schedules, especially for students of class X.”
The sudden change also caused trouble for students. “The kids had exams today but we received a text message in the morning that the school will be shut and exams have been postponed.
They woke up early to revise for their tests,” said a parent whose child studies at Arya Vidya Mandir, Bandra.
But education officials said the leaves need not be adjusted during Christmas vacation. “Schools can adjust the two days during Diwali or Christmas vacations.
The move was not aimed at hurting anyone’s sentiments,” NB Chavan, deputy director of school education, Mumbai division, said.