KARACHI - Asmara Sajid, a mother of two, had almost finalized her plans for the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which includes special classes on the Noble Qur'an and Arabic language as well as family Iftar (breaking of fast).
However, a complicated summer holiday schedule has spoiled her plans.
I and my children had got admission to a special Arabic course which was meant to understand noble Qur'an after the government announced summer holidays for the months of July and August), which would cover the entire month of Ramadan, a disappointed Asmara told OnIslam.net.
But, a sudden and ununderstandable reversal has tumbled our plans.
Ramadan Countdown for New Muslims
Ramadan Heals Pakistan WoundsPakistan Ramadan Fights Smoking
The government has announced summer holidays from June to August to help students and parents enjoy the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is scheduled to start late July.
But schools affiliated with international chains, and the federal board refused to comply with the decision on the ground that they have already announced their class schedule.
Bowing to the schools' demands, the government has left it up to the schools to adopt whichever holidays schedule suits them.
But this relaxation has rendered thousands of parents like Asmara in a state of confusion, whose children are studying in different schools.
My two children (a son and a daughter) are studying in different schools but run by the same management, she said.
Ironically, my son's school has announced the summer holidays in June-July, whereas my daughter's school has opted for July-August schedule for the same.
Ramadan in expected to start in Pakistan on July 19, which means that students whose schools have announced summer holidays in June-July will have only 11 days off during Ramadan.
I am worried about my Ramadan plans, which have been totally disturbed by this complicated schedule, Asmaa complaints.
I and my children were very excited about the Arabic classes, which, I am afraid, we won't be able to attend now, she said, as her son will be going to school in June, while her daughter will be attending her classes in August.
Instead of concentrating on prayers, and learning of Qur'an and Arabic, I will be running for school preparations and pick and drop, Asmara maintained.
Ramadan holidays are also leaving thousands of Pakistanis in a similar state of confusion.
This is totally confusing, Saadia Peerzada, a lawyer by profession, and a mother of three, told OnIslam.net.
Many of my friends are going to drop Qur'an classes because of this confusing schedule.
Peerzada fumes at refusal of the schools affiliated with international chains to comply with government plans for Ramadan holidays.
These schools are bound to follow the (government) education department. They cannot act like state-within-state, an angry Peerzada said.
Tahira Hussein, the vice-principal of a Karachi-based school that follows Cambridge schools of system, defended the government's decision.
Ramadan is the month of sacrifice and strives. It does not teach us to sit idle at home and don't work or study, Hussein told OnIslam.net.
Hussein says thousands of Pakistani schools like hers are affiliated with international schools and they have to follow their schedule.
Our examinations are held simultaneously in all over the world. We cannot change this schedule only for Pakistan, she argued.
But Peerzada, the lawyer, does not accept this argument.
No one is asking them (schools) to change their examination or course schedule. Students will go to schools only for two weeks in August, and then there will be `Eid holidays. These two weeks could have been managed easily, she said.
We (parents) have never demanded for closure of schools during Ramadan, if it falls in September or October or any other month. Our point is that if we can manage and spend this Holy month with better concentration and peace of mind, then why not?
Faisal Ali, a student of grade-10, agrees.
We will hardly be attending classes for 8 days, and then there will be holidays for Independence Day (On August 14), and then `Eid holidays, he told OnIslam.net.It seems if we will neither be able to fully concentrate on studies nor on prayers and fasting during Ramadan because of this schedule.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net