Published: 20th June 2020
Why can’t we have a sabbatical for students?
But the concept of a sabbatical is not dead in the academic world. According to Wikipedia, it is based on the Biblical practise of Shmita, which is related to agriculture
The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality,
and, instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), a multi-faceted English writer who compiled the first comprehensive English dictionary
This topic-essay has been provoked by a news piece published in the media. Taking into account the uncertainty about schools functioning amid the Coronavirus pandemic and concerns about children’s safety, a residential school in Dakshina Kannada has decided against reopening for the 2020-21 academic year. The administrator of Atmananda Saraswathi English Medium School catering to 350 children from LKG to SSLC, justifies that the safety of the children is non-negotiable.
This takes us back to an idea which was a part of the education system in Europe going back a couple of centuries. The academic studies for higher classes were given a break and the students travelled to other countries for a year or so to widen their knowledge horizon. For instance, students from England were sent to their colonies like India. So did other colonial countries in Europe. Now, there are no more colonies and with the ascendency of National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Google, there is no need to physically travel to replace imagination by reality.
But the concept of a sabbatical is not dead in the academic world. According to Wikipedia, it is based on the Biblical practise of Shmita, which is related to agriculture. According to Leviticus 2 (Old Testament of the Bible), Jews in Israel must take a year-long break from working the fields every seven years. A ‘sabbatical’ has come to mean an extended absence in the career of an individual to fulfil some goal like writing a book or travelling extensively for research.
Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians and academics offer the opportunity to qualify for paid sabbaticals as an employee benefit, called sabbatical leave. Some companies offer unpaid sabbaticals for people who want to take career breaks; this is a growing trend in the United Kingdom, with 20% of companies having a career break policy and a further 10% considering introducing one.
In British and Irish Students’ Unions, particularly in higher education institutions, students can be elected to become sabbatical officers of their students’ union, either taking a year out of their study (in the academic year following their election) or remaining at the institution for a year following – a throwback to the colonial times and involving Oxford and Cambridge universities.
You have to think of sabbaticals for students in normal times, for instance, immediately after matriculation/SSLC or equivalent. This will also help the student take a broader and more knowledgeable choice for their further studies.