Mizoram and Tripura governments are keen on changing school timings for better utilisation of daylight and allow students more time for extracurricular activities. The day breaks early in the northeastern states with the sun rising and setting at least 60-90 minutes ahead of western and southern states.
“The sun rises and sets early in the northeastern states. As the country follows the IST (Indian Standard Time), the people of the region has been wasting a lot of daylight,” Tripura Education and Law Minister Ratanlal Nath told IANS.
To better use daylight and provide more scope to students and teachers for extracurricular activities, the Tripura government would like to change schools timings from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m., Nath said.
A high-level committee has been set up to study the issue. After the committee submits its report, the government would take a final decision, he added.
He, however, admitted to some infrastructural problems in 800 schools in the state. “Before introducing the new timings, the government will try to provide suitable infrastructure and teachers,” Nath said.
The minister said the state government has launched a programme, “Natun Disha” (new direction), to assess the academic level of students in classes III to VIII. “The scheme also encourages interaction between teachers and parents for improving education quality and resolving other issues,” he said.
On March 3, the first day of the teacher-guardian interactive meet, 2,18,484 guardians of 3.20 lakh students discussed and resolved petty issues, the minister said.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and Nath also visited several schools and observed the interaction. THe “Natun Disha” scheme would surely yield positive results and improve the quality of education in Tripura, he added.
The Mizoram government too has decided to change the school timing from the new academic session (2019-2020), beginning April.
Instead of one (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) timing, the state government plans to make it 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for primary schools, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for middle schools and 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. for secondary and higher secondary schools.
The move is part of the Mizo National Front’s (MNF) pre-poll promises.
According to a senior education official, the new timings have been finalised considering the climate, food behaviour and turnout of students and teachers in the state.
As far as loss of daylight is concerned, it becomes serious during shorter days of winter, which raises electricity consumption.
Meanwhile, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), largest and influential student body in Mizoram, has opposed the new timings, claiming schools should start earlier for better use of daylight.
MZP President L. Ramdinlian said there must be a separate time zone for the northeast to better utilise the daylight hours.
However, the Mizo Student Union, another student body, has welcomed the new timings saying it would immensely help students, teachers as well as parents.
Many organisations and NGOs, including the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the North East Students’ Organisation, a union of eight students and youth bodies of the seven N-E states, have been demanding a separate time zone for the region.
Nimal Datta, a senior scientist and researcher, said normal activity and schedules like meal timings, official and non-official working and sleeping hours more or less remain the same across the country, as it has a single time zone.
This, Datta told IANS, “results in an around two-hour delay in normal activities in N-E compared with western and southern states.”