As many as over 100 primary schools in the Jamtara district of Jharkhand have been observing Friday as their weekly holiday for students instead of Sunday, citing the Muslim population in the schools. About 70% of the students in these government schools belong to the Muslim community.
Notably, neither these institutions are notified as Urdu-medium schools nor have they received any departmental directives to implement the change. However, due to pressure from the parents of Muslim students, the administration has unilaterally decided to observe Fridays as students’ weekly holidays instead of Sundays.
The new holiday arrangement is also mentioned on the school notice boards.
While villagers claim that this practice is being followed for over 7 years, the district education officer denied the same, saying that the change occurred during the COVID-induced lockdown.
"I feel they made these changes during the lockdown when the schools were shut. Earlier students were only permitted 2 hours of a break on Fridays for Jumma prayers, but now they have changed it to weekly off."
As per our sources, the principal of the Virajpur primary school in Jamtara had written to the district administration in 2021 demanding the cancellation of the weekly Friday holiday, but no action was taken.
The Jharkhand government has now initiated a probe into the alleged irregularities in the functioning of the 100 schools in Jamtara.
Expressing displeasure over the change, Jharkhand Education Minister Jagarnath Mahto demanded a report on the investigation in a week's time. The Ministry also passed an order stating that no amount of pressure from the villagers can force school authorities to make changes in government school rules.
On Monday, BJP leader Deepak Prakash slammed the attempts to "communalize the education system" and demanded that government rules be followed in all institutes.
"A government school should run as per the law and the rules laid down by the state and not as per any caste religion. Unfortunately, some people are trying to communalize the education system too. This is wrong. Don't divide education on the basis of religion," Prakash told Republic.