Published: 30th July 2022
Understanding how the stir over Friday vs Sunday holiday for government schools erupted in Bihar
According to the officials of the Education Department in these areas, this system has been followed for many years. BJP government insists that all the schools should have a uniform day off
Government schools in Bihar’s Muslim-dominated districts of Purnia, Kishanganj Katihar and Araria used to have their weekly day off on Friday, instead of Sunday. And according to the officials of the Education Department in these areas, this system has been followed for many years. However, it became a political issue when Bihar Education Minister and JD (U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary sought a report on this arrangement.
As per a report by PTI, officials state that the matter developed after NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) issued a notice to the governments of Bihar and Jharkhand and sought to know if the government has commissioned any such arrangement. The officials say that it is the Urdu-medium schools in these districts that remain shut on Fridays. And as per another report by The Indian Express, about 500 schools in these areas follow this system.
It has been alleged in media reports that the BJP government has been insisting that all the schools should have a uniform day off. As per PTI, local BJP MLAs have touted the Friday closure arrangement as "mixing of religion with education". JD (U), however, has remained on the defensive side.
Danish Rizwan, the Chief Spokesman of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), which is in alliance with JD (U), asked, “Why are people having a belly ache over schools remaining shut on Fridays? Have the guardians of the students complained? The studies do not suffer. Classes are held six days a week in such schools like elsewhere. And if there is so much of a problem with Fridays, why do institutions remain closed on that day in Jammu and Kashmir?" as per PTI.
JD (U) Parliamentary Board President Upendra Kushwaha, on the other hand, wrote in a tweet, "We politicians must not kick up a storm over every trifle. People should keep in mind that even in Sanskrit Mahavidyalayas (University), there is a holiday on Pratipada and Ashtami dates of every month as per the Hindu calendar”. The tweet was accompanied by a calendar of the Sanskrit University.
However, BJP MP and RSS member Rakesh Sinha called this arrangement "illogical" in a tweet, and countered, "Some people are irrationally justifying the holiday on Friday instead of Sunday in 500 schools in Kishanganj, Bihar. Ekadashi is not a year-long holiday and one should understand the difference between a festival and a regular holiday. 99% of Muslims in Turkey observe a holiday on Sundays but Kishanganj on Fridays!"
The PTI report mentions that nonetheless, BJP has avoided getting into the controversy. Deputy CM Tarkishor Prasad, who is also the MLA from Katihar said, “Every institution being run by governments, be it at the Centre or in states, issues directives with regard to holidays. No institution goes contrary to these. The education department is seized of the matter. If anything has happened contrary to rules, it would be set right. There is no need for me to intervene. The education department is competent to look into the issue and do whatever is appropriate."
The Indian Express notes that while there is a concentration of 67% Muslims in Kishanganj, it is about 40-50% in Araria, Purnia and Katihar. Fridays are given weekly offs for the Muslims to observe the Jumme Ki Namaz.