Schools in South Africa re-open on 9th January, and frantic book-covering and gathering-together of paraphernalia is the order of the day.
It is truly amazing that South Africans took with such little fuss the announcement early last year that the summer holidays were to be shortened drastically in 2018/19. This is what was stated:
“The reason for the short summer holiday was that the council of education ministers took a decision to close schools in the first week of December with effect from 2019. This decision was taken to ensure that the end of year National Senior Certificate examinations marking processes did not have a negative impact on learning and teaching time.”
Of all the utter hogwash! The same conditions have potentially applied for all the decades where it has been customary to have a summer holiday duration of about six weeks. This period, or longer, is standard in very many countries, such as England, and in America it can go as high as two or even three months. It is incumbent on the education departments to cater around this, whatever inconveniences to themselves may arise. The marking processes should have been arranged to fit in with the traditional periods.
Squeals about long holidays do come from parents who continue working, and who lack the enterprise to plan properly for the supervision of their children. More legitimate squeals — about the short holidays — come from those who have planned or looked forward to a decent break, and now find it is rushed. The same number of people now have to compete for accommodation over a shorter period, instead of it being spread out. The appalling increase in road accident statistics has most likely also arisen in part from this congestion. There is also likely to be some absenteeism where parents have (rightly) refused to alter bookings to accommodate the shortened period.
The fanatics who equate more unbroken time at school with better results will find that not only do the statistics mostly contradict this, but they are also ignoring the tremendous advantages towards the growth of the whole person that come from exposure to other activities or places.
All things considered, it is hard to understand why teachers, pupils, (the stupid ‘learner/educator’ jargon is anathema to me) parents, holiday venue and amenity providers, and the travel industry, have not all formed a large lynch party to string up this misguided council of education ministers, chanting, ‘How DARE they steal our holidays?’
The starting date for the 2019 summer holidays has been set as 4th December; let us hope that there will be no question of starting the 2020 year before six weeks have elapsed from that date.