In a significant move, the Maharashtra government has issued a directive on Thursday, mandating that all pre-primary and primary schools up to Class 4 in the state, whether public or private, commence their classes from 9 am onwards starting from the next Academic Year (2024-2025). This decision, aimed at safeguarding the health of students, comes after concerns were raised by Governor Ramesh Bais over the early morning school timings for children under the age of 10.
The directive, communicated through a circular by the School Education & Sports Department, follows a thorough evaluation of proposed timing changes and a survey involving parents, teachers, academic experts, and other stakeholders who advocated for a reconsideration of the current early school hours, which typically begin at 7 am in both urban and rural areas.
According to the circular, schools with pre-primary to Std. 4th classes scheduled before 9 am are required to adjust their timings to commence classes at 9 am or later. It also reassures schools facing challenges in aligning with the prescribed teaching hours outlined in the Right to Education Act, 2009, to seek assistance from the respective District Education Officer for resolution.
The circular highlights the adverse impact of early school timings, particularly on the health of young children. Factors such as evolving lifestyles, advanced entertainment options, and social, cultural, and religious commitments contribute to delayed sleep patterns among children, resulting in insufficient rest and subsequent detrimental effects on their mental and physical well-being due to early morning school routines.
Parents and educators have voiced concerns about the lack of adequate sleep among children, leading to morning lethargy and reduced attentiveness during the day. This issue is exacerbated during monsoon and winter seasons when additional time is required to prepare children for school, including packing lunches and commuting, adding stress to both parents and students, particularly working parents.
Maharashtra, home to nearly 1.09 lakh schools catering to over 2.25 crore students across various standards, is taking proactive steps to address these concerns and prioritize the health and well-being of its student population.
Governor Ramesh Bais, in a public address last December, emphasized the need for educational reforms, including revisiting school timings to ensure students receive sufficient sleep. He advocated for initiatives such as ‘book-less’ schools, ‘e-classes,’ and holistic ranking systems to reduce academic burdens and promote overall student development through sports and creative activities.