…Cabinet to make the final decision

KP Sharma

After the government disclosed information to the media regarding the committee’s suggestion to designate Saturdays as non-working days, teachers across the country have expressed their dissatisfaction, with some turning to social media to criticise it as a politically motivated promise.

However, it’s important to note that these recommendations are not yet finalised. They will undergo extensive discussion within the Cabinet before a final decision is made, placing the fate of the proposal in the hands of the cabinet.

The government’s commitment to declare Saturdays as non-working days is one of the important election pledge, believed to have gained substantial support from teachers and students alike.

This commitment was reiterated on the first day in office by the Prime Minister, who directed the ministry to study its feasibility.

A committee was subsequently established to study the feasibility of implementing this proposal. Since then, teachers and students have eagerly awaited an official announcement regarding potential changes.

During this week’s Meet-the-Press session, Education Minister Yeezang De Thapa informed the media that while the committee had completed its work, concerns were raised about designating Saturday as a non-working day.

These concerns included potential delays in completing the syllabus for terminal classes and insufficient time for co-curricular activities, as many schools schedule such activities on Saturdays. Additionally, management challenges in boarding schools were considered in the committee’s assessment.

On the positive side, declaring Saturday as a day off would provide more time for rest, allowing teachers to attend to personal matters. The education minister said that regardless of the decisions made by the ministry, the quality of education would not be compromised. 

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of thorough consideration in decision-making, stating that recommendations must be well-studied and wise decisions need to be taken. He highlighted the potential consequences, stating, “If we make a mistake in the beginning, we are jeopardizing the education of about 180,000 students.”

He added that the government hopes to implement the day off but acknowledges the need for additional research and discussions to ensure that any new policies benefit both students and teachers.

A seasoned teacher with over 18 years of experience pointed out that while there may be management challenges in boarding schools, it should not be a valid reason to retain Saturday as a working day, as teachers usually don’t have direct involvement in managing students in hostels.

Regarding concerns about completing the syllabus, he mentioned that teachers usually prepare a yearly plan, and the majority do not conduct classes on Saturdays.

The consensus among most teachers is that declaring Saturdays as days off would significantly contribute to the well-being of both students and teachers, who often experience burnout. Weekend rest is seen as crucial for enhancing the psychological well-being of students, leading to more effective performance.

Supporting this sentiment, a parent, Sonam Dorji, believes that having Saturdays off would also provide an opportunity for parents to visit schools located far from home, allowing them to spend quality time with their children.