Requesting retraction of school shift system in S.M. Shetty International School, Mumbai.

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We, the undersigned, parent(s)/legal guardian(s) of student(s) of Bunts Sangha’s S.M. Shetty International High School, respectfully petition that the Honorable Chairman Sir retract the proposed change of school timings from academic year 2019-20 onwards. Parent(s)/legal guardian(s) are overwhelmingly against the prescribed changes in school timings on account of the reasons cited below: -

Traffic: School buses take an average 1 hour to reach places beyond Powai. In the evening, due to traffic conditions on JVLR & LBS Road, the bus travel may increase to 2 hours. This issue will be compounded by the construction of Metro system on LBS Rd. As lunch times will be discontinued, school children will have to endure school and travel times on a 15min snack break during school hours. This will severely exhaust and malnourish the school children.

Academic impact due to time reductions: Over several years, the school has categorically declined to reduce school timings citing adverse impact on academics and requirement of a zero period as per CAIE norms. These statements have been chronicled in PTA minutes for past several years. How can the school now explain their voluntary reduction of time by 2 hours for primary section and 1.5 hours for secondary sections?

Most acclaimed and reputed schools undertaking CAIE curricula across Mumbai have timings from 8am-3pm for primary section and 8am-4pm for secondary section including Hiranandani International, Dhirubhai Ambani, NES Mulund, RBK International, Billabong, Jamnabhai Narsee, etc. How can our school justify the academic consistency with reduced school timings?

CAIE norms stipulate the completion of academic curricula effectively and efficiently. To ensure this, the school is now considering working Saturdays and reduction of cultural holidays as a viable solution. We all need to comprehend that we are dealing here with small kids, not working adults. How can we justify exposing these young minds to a 6-day week? Additionally, cultural holidays are a part of social upbringing of our generation. How can we justify their reduction citing lack of space and ensuring completion of academic curricula?

Podar School: The school has cited that Podar School, Powai, has shift timings. This is a correct analogy, but that is exactly why parents have not chosen Podar School for enrolling their school children, but have been loyal to S.M. Shetty School instead. Such a long-term loyalty and support should not be rewarded by imposing such a life-altering decision on parents and young children. Parents have opted for admission in the school based on the convenience of morning school timings. It is unfair for these existing parents to now adjust to an afternoon time. These existing parents have stuck with the school under all circumstances, no matter how difficult. They do not deserve to be placed in such a life-altering situation.

Lockers: Students will forfeit the use of lockers if their classes are shared between morning and afternoon batches. This will result in children having to carry heavy loads of books on a daily basis. PTA reps and parents have been constantly complaining about the provision of a single lift for 1250 children of the International section, which over past couple of years is only offered to children less than 7 years of age. In response the school has always advanced the lockers as a viable and practical solution to prevent children from carrying books on a daily basis. With the implementation of shift timings, the provision of lockers will now be rendered unviable.

Reduction in time: There is a marked reduction of school time for morning batch by 1.5 hours and afternoon batch by 2 hours. The reduction of the above school times will impact academic progress and the same has not been compensated with a reciprocal reduction in school fees. This implies that parents will now have to pay the same fees for reduced school times.

Impact on health & well-being: The reduction of time cannot be adequately justified by stating that school is discontinuing the 30min lunch time. Nutritionists have advocated that lunch times are an integral part of our daily schedule. Educationists and psychologists have also advocated that school kids require some respite from continuous and non-stop academic absorption. We are asking too much from school children if we are expecting them to be active for 6 hours in school on a mere 15-minute snack break. Kindly consider the school children who play intense sports like Football, Cricket, Basketball, Badminton, Martial Arts, etc., on a 15-minute snack during school hours.

For morning timings, school buses will pick up at 5.45am which is extremely early. Children may have to forfeit their breakfast at this time. Afternoon shift children will leave at 6pm and based on traffic conditions on JVLR, LBS Rd., etc., may end up reaching home by 8pm. School children will have to endure short sleep and long commuting, which is detrimental to their overall well-being. Adding to that the impact of traveling in the evening on an open bus in peak traffic with high levels of pollution will severely degrade school childrens’ health.

Foresight: If school has less space, then they should consider not opening any new admissions or only fill up vacant places and accommodate the current population accordingly. The school has recently renovated the building space (summer of 2016) citing the increase in admissions, etc. Didn’t the school envision a situation where they may eventually run out of space back in 2016? Why weren’t adequate provisions including rental of new premises factored in at that point in time to accommodate the annual influx of new students?

Sports coaching and playtime: School children will have to discontinue their evening playtime, sports & academic coaching. A number of talented school children are enrolled in professional cricket, football & tennis coaching and the afternoon shift may have a catastrophic impact on their development as professional sportsmen for our country. As majority schools are active during the daytime, professional sports are offered in the evening.

Working parents may not have the provision for adjusting to an afternoon time as they would not be available to drop the children in school neither arrange for send-off in the bus in the afternoons.

Parents having school children in both primary and secondary shifts have objected to being tied with adjusting to two different shifts as they will be occupied for entire day from 6am when bus arrives for their secondary kid till 8pm when buses drop their primary kid.

Senior citizens: Some children have grandparents as walkers who take care of school children and it is a burden for senior citizens to adjust to school children in both primary and secondary batches.

In sync with other Boards: Parents are against traveling with school children from other boards in school buses if the bus timings are merged with other boards. Availability of school ground, auditorium, etc., would be severely compromised with the syncing of State and International school timings.

Lack of adequate notice: For a change in school uniform, the school provides a complete 1-year notice before implementation, whereas for the life-altering change in school timings the school has found it adequate to justify a mere 6-month notice (i.e. from Oct 2018 – March 2019). Parents who are unable to adjust to new timings and those parents who live at distant locations may have to exit the school next year if these shift timings are implemented. The impact of changing the school and their friends would have catastrophic psychological and social impact on the children. Is a time-frame of 6 months adequate for parents who may wish to seek admission in other schools?

It is unfortunate that the school has not found it necessary to consult parents before proposing such drastic and life-altering changes.