New Delhi: The Union HRD Ministry was on Monday at the centre of a controversy over a circular by Navodya Vidyalaya Samiti(NVS) asking all its schools to observe December 25-- X'mas day--as 'Good Governance Day' that led to an uproar in Parliament.
As the issue generated heat both inside and outside Parliament, Government moved on multiple fronts to defuse the row, clarifying that all schools including Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalas (JNV) will remain closed on December 25. It also denied a media report suggesting the schools would remain open on Christmas Day to observe 'Good Governance Day'.
"This is to clarify that CBSE has not directed any schools to remain open on December 25. All schools will follow their vacation schedule including holiday on December 25 as specifically clarified by CBSE," a press statement issued by the Human Resources Development(HRD) Ministry said.
It said CBSE has neither issued any circular on its website nor issued any instructions to any schools for remaining open on December 25.
"In view of this, no child or student will be deprived of celebrating the holidays or vacations or participating in their own festivals and religious festivals wholeheartedly".
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned thrice during the pre-lunch session following pandemonium over the circular while the Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar.
In a circular dated December 10, the NVS--which falls under the HRD ministry--has asked its schools to celebrate the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as Madan Mohan Malaviya on December 25 "in its true spirit" by holding activities like declamation contests, quiz competitions and screening of documentaries related to good governance.
"You are requested to ensure that Good Governance Day is celebrated in all JNVs under your region," the circular issued by NVS Commissioner G S Bothyal to the Principals of all JNVs said.
HRD Minister Smriti Irani dismissed as "baseless and inaccurate" the media report suggesting that schools would remain open on December 25 to observe 'Good Governance Day'.
"It is unfortunate that misreporting has been deliberately done...Controversy has been created to grab headlines.
"December 25 is Christmas and will be celebrated like that and schools will be shut," she told reporters.
The intention is to make me keep on giving explanations on this, she said.
Irani said the essay competition that the schools JNVs would be organising would be "voluntary" in nature and conducted online.
"All schools closed for X'Mas, essay competition only online," she tweeted separately.
The CPI-M termed as "offensive and unjustifiable" the move to keep schools open on Christmas and demanded its withdrawal saying it was an "assault" on the religious right of Christians.
The NVS circular had said CBSE would also be organising competitions under its expression series on good governance on December 24 and 25 and it was open to all schools under the Board.
The circular said screening of documentaries and films on best practices in good governance and organisation of various activities through child cabinets in schools would be organised.