Keeping in mind ‘students’ interests,’ Sikkim has ‘modified’ the state’s annual school calendar and rescheduled the summer and winter vacations with effect from the academic session 2018-19. Officials of the Human Resource Development Department (HRDD) told a press conference here today that the decision was taken after “diligent deliberations and discussions” among administrative officials, policy-decision makers of the state government and school heads.

“It will help our children be academically qualitative and competitive, which will ultimately help in the overall development of the children,” HRDD minister RB Subba said. The new calendar shortens the winter vacation from two months to one month and increases the summer vacation duration to one month.

“This does not mean that the number of holidays has been reduced. It remains the same.The reason behind this decision was that during the summer season, the monsoon rains cause a lot of road disruptions, ultimately hitting the school schedule. As a consequence, students and teachers both have problems in completing the syllabi within the prescribed time,” additional Chief Secretary GP Upadhyay said.

“Winters nowadays are not as harsh as they used to be, and the Department can utilize more days of the winter vacation as working days, thereby facilitating the schools in minimizing the learning gap,” he added. Mr Upadhyay further said that until now, Class 11 used to start in July and its examinations were held in December, giving the students only about four months to study.

“It is pertinent to note that the question papers for entrance tests for higher studies like medical, engineering and other technical courses have been found prepared mostly from the texts of Class 11. Hence, children have not been able to score as expected due to less coverage of the syllabus in Class 11.

The new calendar will have Class 11 starting in June-July with a full month of study in December and winter vacation during January. Their examinations will now be held in February, which will give them more time to cover the syllabus and study better,” he added. “This will also align our academic calendar with that of the CBSE and NCERT to a great extent, which will help our students take part in various All-India activities,” he said. Director, Primary section, HRDD, Bhim Thatal, said this is a timely reform that will bring about quality in schooling, which will also help check the dropout rate.

For the academic session 2018, the schools will reopen on February 12, 2018; however, for the session 2019, the schools will reopen on February 1, 2019. Moreover, as announced by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling earlier, from the session 2018, Kindergarten classes will start in all government schools in Sikkim.