Five-Day Week: Challenges ahead

In alignment with the Panjab University work schedule, its affiliated colleges are set to have a five-day module. If it is appropriate for the university to function for five days a week, it should be logical for the affiliated colleges to follow the same pattern.

Undoubtedly, the argument is valid but there may be practical difficulties in the implementation of 5-day work schedule. The switch over to the new module will necessitate changes in time- table of the college teachers as well as the students so as to compress six days work-load into five days, either by increasing the duration of periods or by increasing the number of periods. In both the cases, the time table will be stretched, resulting into longer time span in the college. But the question arises, if all the stakeholders, who are used to a short and comfortable time schedule, be happy to accept a longer time span in the college. Will they be prepared for the trade off? What about the infrastructure – the rooms and laboratories? Are there enough labs available so that practicals, which are otherwise distributed in six days of the week, could be adjusted in five days?

By making adjustments in the time- table, the colleges may be able to compensate for the loss in teaching days, but what about the extra time which will be required in conducting the exams and also the admissions? With the new module, every activity from admission process to exams will have to be adjusted within the 5-day framework; hence it will consume more days making further dent into the already depleted teaching days. Whatever exaggerated claims may be made regarding the number of teaching days in the colleges, the requisite 180 teaching days in an academic year remains a distant, elusive number. The fact is that actual number of teaching days grossly falls short of the number mandated by UGC.

The five- day module is a fantastic idea provided there are a limited number of holidays. But in our system where there is a plethora of holidays, scheduled and unscheduled, very often the two day week-end will get stretched into extended week-end .With 5-day schedule there are greater chances of a working day getting sandwiched between holidays. Needless to say, these sandwiched working days are virtually ‘no teaching days’. We must not forget that the 5-day module will not only further shrink the number of effective teaching days, but may leave less time for co-curricular activities.

The argument that the attendance is lean on Saturdays and hence 5-day module will not entail any actual loss in teaching is misplaced. Where is the guarantee that the attendance does not fall on Friday when the week-end gets preponed? It is quite possible that the holiday mood sets into motion on Friday itself. Another argument is that the 5-day schedule will give time to the teachers for research and study. This, I treat as a forbidden territory into which I would not like to venture.  

I hope all these aspects pertaining to five-day module in the colleges are thoroughly examined so that the transition to the new schedule proves beneficial to the stakeholders without compromising on the quality of education.


The Tribune (Education Page)7 May 2013

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