Monday, May 09, 2016

No School on Saturday

One regret I have from my childhood is not having spent enough time with my parents. I thought I would get all the time in the world to be with them once I finish my school. I didn't see this coming. After school came college and then came job, in between I lost my stepfather. Now I only get to meet my mother for less than a month each year. Soon life will be over. 

The cycle continues with my daughter. She is in school six days a week and returns home exhausted. We wait for her till afternoon on Saturdays to go anywhere. Sundays are full of activities, mostly going around and before we figure out how to make smart use of the lone family day in a week she will be gone to college. Then we will be gone. 

Typical Saturday in School
Can we not have school on Saturday? So that by Friday evening we feel so relaxed and for the next two days children can do real things in life. Even children in hostel could undertake various vocations or visit home and do real things that really matter in life. Across the world, in all countries known for best education systems children don't go to school on Saturdays. In fact children are not given homework during the weekends. 

Ever since Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk took office as the new Education Minster I felt a sudden gush of energy in the Education Ministry. People are motivated and therefore things are going to change. Many positive changes that are on dusty paper are finally going to flow into schools. But often in the name of change we push for more. It's the natural way things but did it work so far? We have overloaded schools with news things when they haven't figured out how to do the old thing very well. 


For once could we try lesser in the name of change? Because we have never tried that, so let's take away Saturday from the school week. It will avoid school-fatigue in students, and lesser they get to be in school more they will appreciate their time in school. Moreover, we talk a lot about youth issues perhaps we should give them more family time to sort things out. School is taking lot of family time away from them, and perhaps we should stop thinking that school has all the solutions. We don't, it's proven. 

As for the teachers, they are exhausted people, often frustrated, they deserve good rest over the weekend just like any civil servant, if not more, which actually should have been the case. They need time with their own children as well. What's the use if at the end of the day your own children are deprived of everything you boast to have given to your students. Therefore there can be no greater incentive than Saturday with their own family. 

In Finland, the number one education system in the world, teachers only work for 570 hours in a year, half that of the United States and third of ours. Our teachers work 1440 hours in a year. But where are we in comparison? Therefore less is more. If anything should be more it should be the salary because in Finland (again) teachers are paid almost Nu.5600 per hour. They earn our monthly salary in half a day. So lets forget about the salary, and concentrate on Saturday because it's possible. 

Other civil servants who have their Saturdays off don't really get to relax because they have to prepare their children for school and drop them to school. Then wait till afternoon to go anywhere. So even when so many offices are closed on Saturday we still see traffic jam because the schools are open. 

I had this on my mind for the longest time but now seems the right time to share because of the optimism that has come with the new minister. So I hereby request Education Minister to consider removing things from our system, instead of adding and let Saturday be the first to be removed.

26 comments:

  1. Excellent idea I've never thought about but for those parents who still works on Saturdays!!have you thought of any idea for them??

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  2. It is a good idea sir. But can this idea work for schools having maximum of their students having parents away from school?

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  3. Great idea. Our teachers need time for their children as well, as you have argued.

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  4. I too feel you Are right. Saturday should be free... for children.

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  5. I too feel you Are right. Saturday should be free... for children.

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  6. That's an out of box thinking Sir. A possibility and a hope amidst the dark.

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  7. I wish someone could communicate this idea to the higher executives.School really is fatigue with 6 continues days

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  8. You have spoken the mind of many.... Yes, both teachers and students must take complete rest during the weekends....

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  9. News going round is that Saturday is going to have 2 proper teaching periods only after which Co curricular and extra curricular activities to carry out. None the less; with new education minister at the helm of affairs; let's be optimistic. A teacher will know best the plight of a teacher. Good write up and timely.

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  10. It's a great initiative Passu. The only time I remember doing during Saturday in school is doing SUPW and going home exhausted. Never had the time to spend with family. Let weekend be in parks, for picnics, watching movie and other stuff with family and not in school!

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  11. Very well written and thoughtful article. I agree with you, having taught in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and having worked in Bhutan on two visits.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I am very surprised that the kids have to attend schools for 6 days weekly. I don't think that is necessary and many countries in the world don't do that. The schooling hours are just half days and still produced top graduates and leaders of the future. Perhaps you should run for next elections.

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  14. A good thought process being narrated which now seriously needs to be materialized. And this is absolutely doable and sensible as well. The schools on Saturday indeed is tiring and boring after almost 2100 minutes of learning between Monday to Friday. Free the kids brain for at least 24 hours!!!

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  15. good idea ! But recent notice from ministry says to stop giving off during Saturdays. Some schools in Thimphu tried this idea of giving holiday to students and teachers were asked to attend PD Program. ''T/DEO'' strictly said 'no' to this idea because of ministry's directives. Some office going parents also don't like this idea because they have the notion that Saturday's off to enjoy themselves with out the disturbances of their own children.

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  16. A good thought indeed!

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  17. The Minister did not feel the idea right. The office order had been issued on 3 May 2016 asking schools to commence taking classes on Saturdays.

    The students especially younger ones are physically and mentally exhausted with going to school 6 days a week. I have noticed my class III going daughter that she really calm and at peace when she did not have to go on Saturdays. Now I have observed even her sleep pattern is changed. She is on a fast mode but things don't seem to favour it.

    Looking at my daughter, I feel off-Saturday would have been a better choice.

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  18. Hi Passu- very well written article and the message comes out quite clear. Saturday to be off BUT do you think with the number of public holidays that we celebrate would be enough for both teachers and student to be able to cover the yearly syllabus. Bhutan today celebrates more than 25 off public days for various reasons and on top of that- winter breaks in school takes its troll. Most of the students and teachers work on deadlines so if Saturdays are to be off, i think we surely need to do away with some of the public holidays. Finland for the record celebrates 11 public holidays and try and keep other celebrations mostly in the weekend.

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  19. Good food for thought and of course to be followed by action. I am a Bhutanese living in US with a 7 year old son. He is so used to having no schools on Saturdays and now when he goes back to Bhutan, he will have difficulties coping up. Like you said, we usually have a very good weekends with my son. We start our weekend plans from Friday night and go out swimming, camping, sports etc on Saturday and take little rest on Sunday.

    We have 19 days of public holidays in 2016 in Bhutan. So even by international standards, it looks fine. We have 20 days of public holidays in my workplace in US. Moreover, in Bhutan we usually don't get holiday compensation if it falls on weekends but in US all the holidays are compensated if it falls on weekends.


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  20. Great suggestion. I guess you plucked the right cord for all-teachers, children and parents at the right time. I also buy in your idea of "the less means more". The glow we would see on the faces of our teachers and Students alike on Monday would be the first evidence and that would possibly be substantiated by the kind of students our schools produce in longer run. I only pray it receives the attention of all the stakeholders for better tomorrow.

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  21. Great suggestion. I guess you plucked the right cord for all-teachers, children and parents at the right time. I also buy in your idea of "the less means more". The glow we would see on the faces of our teachers and Students alike on Monday would be the first evidence and that would possibly be substantiated by the kind of students our schools produce in longer run. I only pray it receives the attention of all the stakeholders for better tomorrow.

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  22. When we complain that we have no time for our parents, our kids or ourselves, we only can blame our own bad time management. This is what my late mother fired into my ex-boss' head!! He complained that he had no time to learn ballroom dancing like my parents.

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