South Africa News

Education Department’s plans to cancel school holidays met with outrage

The department of basic education’s proposal to cancel October school holidays has outraged parents, teachers, and unions while experts advise the department to allow the break.

According to Prof Wayne Hugo of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the October holiday is much needed, even though the break would make up for the schooling days lost due to Covid disruptions.

Hugo said taking Covid into consideration, people need to understand the next wave is expected in December. So, parents and teachers should understand more work needs to be done before the next wave.

“The department is caught between a rock and a hard place because [it needs] to get through the years’ syllabus and get enough teaching and learning so that they can get onto the next year,” he said.

“But is it going to be the case that if October holidays are sacrificed, how much teaching and learning will actually happen, and will they get some of the work done by the end of the year.”

Hugo said the department has to consider the double loss they’d have if more disruptions were to happen during that time.

“Is it going to be the situation where pupils are feeling fragmented and struggling, while teachers are feeling exhausted and unable to teach?” he asked.

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA released a report of the meeting between teacher unions, where they rejected the department’s proposal.

“The unions … reject the idea as inconsiderate, a clear indication of the lack of respect and care for teachers and the stressful situation they are living through daily,” said the report.

“The fixation of the department with having 200 school days completely ignores the reality of Covid and the fact that the president had closed school for an extra week.”

The unions said the department had no regard for teachers who worked overtime during the weekends unpaid. Meanwhile, some parents and teachers were concerned children would suffer greatly with the added pressure of additional teaching days and not enough rest.

“Children are sick and always absent and the department wants to start sport and cultural activities after school just as the next wave is expected. There’ll be another spike,” said a teacher in Gauteng.

“We as teachers are not happy. We are stressed and overworked and need a break. But not only ourselves, the children, too. They are ill all the time, colds, stomach ache, vomiting, you name it.” However, some were very happy about the department’s proposal.

-The Citizen

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