Srinagar: Private Educational Institutions in the subcontinent have been criticised for being too hard on the students, creating pressure for maintaining high grades. But recently, in Kashmir, these private institutions have proved to be worse in their behaviour towards parents, and teachers.
Be it changing school uniforms every six months, causing financial stress to the parents, or exploiting teachers paying them low wages and making them over-work, the schools seem to have been running like an authority of their own, which follows no regulation.
While the government offices, educational institutions and banks stay closed today to celebrate Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s birthday, also celebrated as International Day of Non-Violence, some private educational institutions including Doon International (DIS), Presentation Convent (PCS), New Convent and Oasis School continue to work today. While students were called to DIS and PCS, in some other schools the teachers were called up to do the ‘paperwork’.
“We received a message from the school yesterday informing that the school will remain closed on 1st October and that 2nd October will be a regular working day,” says a parent who ward studies in DIS.
Adding, he asks, “This is not the only time when they have opposed the government order. When the government declares summer or winter holidays, they make sure to stretch the working days by 10 to 15 days. Gandhi Jayanti is a National Holiday! If we are following all rules that Delhi frames, why not holidays?”
The parent had also approached the authorities once by lodging a complaint in Chief Minister’s Grievance Cell regarding announcing of winter vacations in accordance with government orders. However, he says, “Probably, the school has ‘influences’. That is how they survive despite opposing the government orders.”
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He says that he never received a response from the cell. However, some government official had been to the school after some days which again, “was of no use.”
“They went there for inspection and still they closed the school after 3 days of the inspection. And guess what! No action was taken against them!” he exclaims.
“Who are they to decide when to declare a holiday and when not to? My child would have really enjoyed the holiday at home. Now, this Jayanti makes no difference to her,” he adds.
When asked why they keep opposing the norms, the Administrative In-charge DIS told Free Press Kashmir that the school had been closed on 1st October as a day before it had celebrated its Annual Day.
“We had celebrated our Annual Day a day before. The teachers and students were tired. So, we decided to keep Monday a holiday,” said Mehnaz, Manager DIS. When told that the school cannot bend the rules as per their convenience, she says, “This is for the first time that we have kept the school running on a National holiday. Otherwise, we frame out holidays as per the government order. This time, due to the Annual Day celebrations, the students had already missed classes. We needed to recover that as well.”
As far as other schools are concerned, the faculty says that they are called to school even if there is not much to do there.
“There are no students in the school. Still, we have been called to make lesson plans and do some paperwork,” says a faculty member from Oasis School, on condition of anonymity.
“It’s not that we don’t want to work or that we only look for excuses to stay home. But, it’s our right to stay home when there is a holiday,” the teacher adds.