South Africa, Durban – THE Department of Basic Education has introduced changes to the schooling calendar that will see pupils have one less week to rest during the June holidays next year. According to the calender published by the department last week, pupils will return to school on January 25 for the start of the year.
The calendar has been shortened because of the effects of the Covid-19 virus, which led to the closure of schools, delayed end-of-year exams, and affected the marking of scripts and reopening of schools. Some teacher unions reacted positively to the calendar changes but were concerned about the reduction in the number of school holidays, especially during the cold winter season.
The calendar shows that the first term will run from January 25 to March 31, which will give about 46 days for teaching and learning. The second term will be from April 13 to June 25, giving about 51 days for teaching.
The third term will be from July 13 to September 23 and will have about 52 days of teaching and learning. The last term will be from October 5 to December 8, with 47 days of teaching and learning.
National Professional Teachers Association of SA executive director Basil Manuel said they were consulted about the calendar about a month ago and were generally happy with the changes.
“We are concerned about the fact that the June holiday has been cut by a week, the holidays will now be two weeks instead of the three that we are accustomed to. June is a bitterly cold month for many of our little ones who have to walk to school. The impression is created that they are transported to schools, which is not the case.
“I do not understand the fixation people have that there should be 200 days of schooling,” said Manuel.
He said they understood the need for the changes and the congestion, as a result to the late start to the year.
“What must be the focus now is what are we going to do in that time?”
National Teachers Union president Allen Thompson said they were comfortable with the changes.
“We are still going to have a thorough analysis of the timetable during our board meeting today, but it looks like the department did take some of our submissions into consideration,” he said.