The Sindh government’s notification that the summer holidays for schools will start in July and last till the end of August makes sense since it will coincide with the particularly long summer fasts during the month of Ramazan. However, the decision does not take into account the needs of the hundreds of schools in the province that follow the Cambridge system, as their school year ends a month earlier. This has been an issue on previous occasion and one would have thought that by now various stakeholders would have resolved this problem. To announce the decision towards the end of May, when parents have already scheduled vacations and school terms are winding down, shows a complete lack of foresight on the part of the Sindh government.
By taking the decision so late in the school year, the Sindh government has essentially rammed through a choice they knew would be controversial. The issue of the end of the school term arises every year and every year authorities hold off on resolving it once and for all. Ideally, we should have a system of education in the entire country with all schools having the same school year in terms of duration. Pakistan’s education system, however, is far from ideal and the bulk of the problems extend well beyond this issue. Until then, it is incumbent on the provincial government to make such decisions only after consulting all the different schools.
It would be unrealistic to expect the Cambridge-system schools to follow the Sindh government’s last-minute decision. Academic calendars are planned well in advance and to change them right now would lead to a disruption in the school year. Such a decision could only have been implemented had it been taken before the academic year began. Rather than trying to ram through this decision, the government would be well served to quickly make a decision for the next school year after discussing the matter with everyone who is affected by it. Education is not like other matters where the government can force everyone to follow along with its whimsical dictates.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.
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