New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s proposed address to all schools on Teachers` Day Friday has sent schools scrambling to set up the requisite infrastructure. Many morning schools have changed their schedule to later in the day.
The directive concerning the address has led to logistical concerns for some parents, with many private transporters not agreeing to ply in the evening hours.
Modi will address students and hold a question-answer session with them from 3 p.m. to 4.45 p.m. Sep 5 on the occasion of Teachers` Day.
The government has asked schools throughout the country to make arrangements for viewing Modi`s address.
"It has been directed by the ministry of human resource development (HRD) that all the schools throughout the country are to make arrangements so that children shall view the prime minister`s live address on TV," said a circular from the Delhi government`s Directorate of Education (DoE).
The DoE has also instructed schools to submit "preparedness status report" by Sep 2, and called for proper monitoring and cautioned that "any laxity in the arrangements will be viewed seriously".
The Central Board of Secondary Education has asked schools to send by Sep 1 their report about arrangements made and the number of students "likely to be covered".
But with some political parties questioning the timing of Modi`s address to students, HRD Minister Smriti Irani had Monday clarified that listening to the address was "completely voluntary".
Several school principals and teachers told IANS that they had not received any formal communication about the participation at the event being voluntary.
A school principal, who did not want to be named, said they have decided to run the school from 12 noon till 5 p.m. in view of the prime minister`s address.
"We also have our own programme to celebrate Teachers` Day and will reschedule it," the principal said.
A school teacher said the authorities know that most schools function in the morning and the timings of the prime minister`s address could have been fixed accordingly.
A principal of a private school said Modi should have addressed students on Children`s Day and not Teachers` Day.
She said around 100 students will stay back to attend the prime minister`s address and would be provided snacks as providing lunch would be expensive.
"For the other students, we will send out a bulk SMS asking them to watch the address wherever they can," she added.
Teachers` Day is celebrated Sep 5 to mark the birth anniversary of India`s first vice president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was also a great philosopher.
The DoE circular asked all heads of schools to "make available requisite number of televisions, set top box connections, projectors/screens, amplifiers, generator sets/inverters etc on hiring basis if the same are not available in the schools".
A teacher of a government school in east Delhi told IANS that it will be difficult for the school to provide facilities for viewing of the address by all students.
"We have around 3,500 students. The big room in the school can accommodate about 150 students. I do not know how others will view the address," he said.
He said while the school principal was trying to organise a projector and cable connection, it will be difficult to organise a generator.
"I do not know how logistics will work out if there is rain," he said.
Another government teacher in south Delhi said they have made arrangements for projectors and also generators.
Some parents, however, expressed apprehension about the changed school timings and transport arrangements.
"While I have received an SMS from the school that students must come to listen to the prime minister`s address, I am not sure if I will send my child due to the timings," said Divya Sethi, mother of a Class 3 student.
Deepak Sharma, father of a Class 5 student, said he will not be able to send her daughter to school as they have to make their own transport arrangements.
"The private van which usually brings the child back home has refused to ply Sep 5. I may not be able to send her to listen to the address though she wants to go," he said.
Students IANS spoke to generally welcomed the idea of the prime minister addressing them but did not commit themselves to attending the event in their schools.
"It will be difficult for Class 12 students to attend due to their terminal examinations," said Fahad Nazeer, a student of a school in Green Park.
Political parties such as the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party have criticised the prime minister`s move to address the students.