Winter vacation shortened, summer holidays extended

Gangtok, 01 Feb:

The Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] has modified the annual school calendar and rescheduled the summer and winter vacations from this academic session i.e. 2018-19. The new annual school calendar has shortened down the winter vacation from two months to one month and has increased the summer vacation duration to one month.

Addressing a press conference today where the announcement was made, Additional Chief Secretary, Mr Upadhyaya, said, “This does not mean that the number of holidays is reduced, it remains the same. The reason behind this decision was that during summer season, monsoon causes a lot of rain and road blockage because of which the scheduled school days go unutilized. As a consequence, students and teachers both have difficulty in completing the syllabi on prescribed time. Winters nowadays are not as harsh as it used to be and the department can utilize more days of the winter vacation as working days thereby facilitating the schools in minimizing the learning gap.”

One of the major reasons for this decision has been the situation of Class XI students, who have till now had classes starting only from July following the results of the Class X board examination with their final exams being held in December giving them only about 5-6 months of study time.

"It is pertinent to note that the question papers for entrance tests for higher studies like medical, engineering and other technical courses have been found prepared mostly from the texts of Class 11. Hence, children have not been able to score as expected due to less coverage of syllabi in Class 11, he added," said Mr Upadhyaya.

With the change in the school calendar, the examination will be held in February giving students one full month of study in December and winter vacation in January to prepare for the exams.

Mr Upadhyaya adds, "This will also align our academic calendar with that of CBSE and NCERT to a great extent which will help our students in taking part in various All India activities as well as in getting the revised NCERT and CBSE text books in time for our students. Winter coaching in January will greatly help class X and XII students in maintaining continuity,”

For the Academic Session 2018, the schools will reopen on 12 Feb, 2018; however, for the Academic Session 2019, the schools will reopen on 01 Feb, 2019.

"This is a timely reform to bring quality in schooling which will help in learning retention and will check dropouts. Students appearing for Board Exams will be getting one month of quality learning in the month of February, which will help them for better academic output,” said Director, Primary and SPD [SSA], Bhim Thatal.

Retired vice principal of Modern Senior Secondary School, Tshering Choezam is of the opinion that the new calendar is beneficial only for Class XI students.

"I don’t know how this is going to work. Teachers can manage in the cold weather but how will the students study in the cold? February is also mostly cold. School infrastructure is not equipped to handle the cold. For Class XI students, there are other methods that can be used. There are special classes and already there are some community based organizations providing coaches classes," she states.

On revised NCERT and CBSE text books reaching the students on time with the new schedule, Ms Choezam opines that that may be the case for higher classes but for students of classes upto VIIIth standard, the text books are printed locally.

It may also be mentioned that the kindergarten classes will start in all government schools in Sikkim from this session-2018 as announced by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. Earlier, HRDD had introduced KG system of school in the year 2016 with 32 pilot schools which was further introduced in 235 schools in the year 2017.