THERE will be no third term school holidays to make up learning time lost during the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to teachers’ union, Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU).
The union said it was among the unions invited to a meeting with representatives from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Saturday.
“It was learnt that the DBE intends to cancel the October school holiday to compensate for the five school days that were lost as a result of the earlier closure for the winter holidays,” SAOU said.
The union said the DBE admitted that the committee of education ministers decided that the five days from 4 to 8 October 2021 must be utilised to compensate for the lost school time.
It was also decided that the third and fourth term will be separated by a long weekend which is the Heritage Day long weekend from September 23 to 26, as a school holiday. They will return to school on Monday 27 September.
The SAOU said unions were opposed to this decision. The unions argued that the school early winter school closure was aimed to limit infections and to curtail the effect of the third wave.
“The absolute fixation to insist on the normal 200 school days per annum despite the fact that the world is experiencing an extraordinary period as a result of the Covid pandemic, makes no sense whatsoever. Educators are extremely diligent and do their utmost to ensure that the trimmed curriculum is covered,” SAOU said.
SAOU said the unions instead proposed that the DBE should allow for the holidays to take place as planned and that the last two weeks of the fourth term are used as class time instead. The union said marks are submitted to the District office at the end of November thus making the last two weeks dormant.
The unions said the DBE’s principle of “one-size fits all” was not working and that learners had a limited attention span.
“Many educators, and parents, have already incurred financial expenses for the October holidays. Who will reimburse them? It has also been learnt that the SGB organisations do not support the proposed cancellation of the holidays,” the union said.