Students need not have to attend classes anymore on Saturdays from the academic session next year.
This is according to the decision made during the 19th National Education Conference held in Phuentsholing last week.
The recommendation to do away with classes on Saturdays was also raised earlier. However, it will be implemented only from next year. After through research and consultation, the education ministry has endorsed not to have classes and the weekend will be utilized in professional development of teachers and engage them in non-teaching activities in schools.
Meanwhile, the government had also pledged doing away with classes on Saturdays during the election campaign earlier this year.
Education minister Jai Bir Rai said waiving off Saturday classes would allow teachers to develop as a professional and this will ultimately enhance the quality of education.
This, according to the minister, does not mean that the teachers are kept off from their professional duties. “They get more into other activities from which their professional skills will improve,” he added.
Meanwhile, all the school heads are also expected to come up with strategic plans on measures to meaningfully engage the students during the weekend though they won’t be attending schools. It is hoped that doing away with classes during Saturdays would set those students, particularly day-scholars, free and idle.
“Without proper alternatives for them, it’s early to waive off the classes. There are chances that they may engage in other unlawful activities,” a participant said.
Till now, most of the schools were using Saturdays to conduct many of the co-curricular activities apart from having two periods for normal classes. Activities like social works, inter-house competitions, and cleaning works were done on Saturdays. However, these activities will now be adjusted during the weekday as they will have extended periods.
The education minister said the parents and school need to work collectively to meaningfully engage the students during holidays.
According to the education ministry, it was found that despite having no classes on Saturdays, still the required instructional days are met. The ministry requires a minimum of 180 instructional days in a year. Still there will be 185 instructional days even if Saturday classes are cancelled.
The ministry, however, will review the decision and take appropriate action after the implementation. The impacts it bring to the education system will also be reviewed after three years.
Meanwhile, some teachers say that calling off Saturday classes would also enable teachers to engage in other meaningful activities whereby their professional development would be enhanced. They say that the activities can be adjusted by creating zero-period in a week where such activities can be conducted.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing