Michelle Jones

Education Writer

SCHOOLS are opening a week early next year.

But this is not a planning mistake or anything out of the ordinary, this is simply the Basic Education Department’s rotational system at work.

Some Western Cape parents became confused after they noticed schools reopened next year in the second week of January, more than a week earlier than schools opened this year.

According to the national department the coastal and inland provinces take turns each year starting the first term a week earlier and then ending the term a week earlier.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga publishes the school calendars according to the National Education Policy Act.

This ensures all schools are open for the same amount of days.

Coastal schools – Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape – reopen for pupils on January 11 and end the first term on March 23.

Meanwhile inland schools – Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo – reopen for pupils on January 18 and end the first term on March 30.

Schools in all provinces follow the same timetable for the remaining three terms.

Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said this was “just rotational, nothing new or sinister”.

“The reasons for schools opening earlier in the coastal areas is because of the rotation system with the inland schools.

“But this year coastal will open first and inland later, beside that nothing has changed. The school days between the two, coastal and inland, remain 200.”

Education MEC Donald Grant has appealed to all parents to ensure their children arrive at school ready and on time for the new year.

“The Western Cape Education Department would like to make a special plea to parents planning to leave the province during the Christmas holidays to ensure that their children get back in time. In previous years, some parents have delayed their return to the Western Cape until they have enough money for the return fare. In some instances, their children have missed up to two weeks of schooling.”

“In 2012, the number of school days lost could be even more severe because schools are opening a week earlier compared to previous years.”

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