SA’s school calender set for shake-up

Johannesburg - South Africa's school calendar may change to limit disruptions caused by public holidays.

Amendments had been proposed to the national policy for determining school calendars for public schools, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said in a notice published in the Government Gazette.

Minister of Basic Education Angie MotshekgaFile photo: Itumeleng English. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The notice came after consultation with the council of education ministers.

Interested parties and organisations have until February 28 to submit their comments.

In essence, the changes call for a school year of about 200 days, divided, as far as possible, into four terms of equal schooling days of 50 days per term.

However, for educational reasons, it was deemed desirable that the third term be longer than the fourth term.

Teachers would start the school year two days before pupils and end two days after them, “with the expectation that every educator must be able to account for 1800 actual working hours per annum” - or nine hours a day on average.

All teachers should be at school during the formal school day, which should not be less than seven hours a day, except for special reasons and with the prior permission of the principal.

For inland schools (in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West and Free State) it was proposed their school year would start in the second week of January, and for coastal schools (in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape) the start would be in the third week of January.

According to the proposals, school terms would not start on Mondays, to cut down traffic build-up on the Sunday, and because Mondays did not provide time for hostel staff to prepare for the return of pupils.

The proposals were also aimed at limiting the disruptive effect of public holidays and trying to negate the effect of the slew of public holidays in April.

The proposals allow for a maximum of two special days a year to be set aside for schools to use as sporting or cultural events. School governing bodies must apply to the relevant heads of department for permission to utilise such days.

These days could also be used for religious observances but the majority of pupils must come from a particular faith.

Religious minorities will be allowed to miss school on certain days but cannot be “academically disadvantaged”, and examinations and tests must not be administered on such days that pupils are absent.

To enable “all affected parties and stakeholders” to do their planning properly, the calendar for a particular year should be available 18 months in advance. - Sapa