The Education Department Gets Away with Robbing all South Africans


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.

© January 2019 Colonialist

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
This entry was posted in Africa, Current Affairs, Education, Grandchildren, Politicial comment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Education Department Gets Away with Robbing all South Africans

  1. Pingback: The Education Department Gets Away with Robbing all South Africans — Colonialist’s Blog – Beautiful gerden

  2. My granddaughter, Ruby, starts out on her education this year and this is what here parents must work around. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

    http://www.nswschoolholiday.com.au/index.php/nsw-school-holiday-dates-2019

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  3. Sue W says:

    For many years there has been talk of shortening the English summer break, fortunately it hasn’t happened.

    Our local authority decided to make the first two weeks of April into a compulsory Spring break and irrespective of when Easter falls. The other local authorities that border our city of Leeds take the usual two week Easter break. In many cases parents have children in two authorities, such as one in high school and one in Primary. For some this has made childcare difficult.

    My daughter works for one authority and her children are at school in another. Fortunately, because of family, child care has been managed, taking a family break at Easter has not proved as easy.

    Why Leeds decided to go against the norm is beyond my comprehension and as far as I’m aware no reason has been given.

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  4. Stephanie Haahjem says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! However, here in Gauteng, the holidays started as soon as exams were finished, in mid-November. A lot of children didn’t go to school, as there was no teaching happening-whilst the poor Grade 8s had to do 48 hours of Community Service-which entailed dozens of school-children flooding NPO’s and being bored to tears, as there is very little that 13-14 year-olds can do there, apart from menial tasks!

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    • colonialist says:

      That is extremely interesting. Officially, the terms were the same for all provinces. Who laid down these variations? Did parents simply withdraw kids after exams? As for the Community Service kick, a good idea in theory but I can see it falling down hopelessly in practice without exhaustive gearing-up for it.

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      • Kathleen says:

        Well, I have friends whose kids were off from mid-November, but they had to fill in a permission slip stating whether the kids would be coming to school or not. According to my Sunday School kids a lot of them were off earlier than expected too, so it seems to have happened at a number of schools actually.

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  5. You are right. Working parents need baby sitters and activities for their children.
    Research proves that brains need rest- down time to informally mull over what was learned – and where/how it can be applied. Kids need to get bored – to discover how to amuse themselves and how to create – create in ways not dictated by lessons/instructors/patterns. It is a time to explore interests. Longer school years – longer days do not improve learning or the amount learned.
    Those are not “holidays” those are days of leaps of growth and exploration of what interests.
    (OK, I’ll sit down and be quiet…but as one who worked in behavioral sciences, human brain theory and research studying how humans learn, (and yes, I do have practical hands on classroom experience, too) it is very difficult to watch the idiocy)

    Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist says:

      I am grateful for such an informed confirmation of my impressions. The ‘me first’ syndrome, as seen in traffic and queues etc. What suits the Ed Dept few is applied and the greater public are simply expected to fall into line. What amazes me is how tamely they did so.

      Liked by 2 people

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