Public holiday chaos for schools

2009-03-27 00:00

WHILE employees will relish the prospect of enjoying five public holidays in the space of just three weeks, schools across KwaZulu-Natal will face widespread disruption and a significant rise in absenteeism.

Many government schools in KZN will feel the pinch.

The second term of 2009 for (government) schools in the province begins on Wednesday, April 15.

However, some pupils might be inclined to take an extended holiday and only return to school on Monday, April 20.

A principal at one Pietermaritzburg school told Weekend Witness that parents are increasingly scheduling one-week holidays that fall within a school week.

“A lot of parents are accessing timeshare holidays. They might, for example take the week off between April 13 and 17 and the learner would lose out on three schooldays,” he said.

He added that some parents whose children travel by public transport or lift-clubs may wish to cut costs by encouraging children to stay away for an entire week.

The principal of a school in the northern suburbs told Weekend Witness that many pupils in this area of Pietermaritzburg come from the Eastern Cape.

He said in some extreme cases, out-of-town pupils may decide to remain at home in the Eastern Cape after April 15 until the end of the month, in order to cut back on accommodation costs in Pietermaritzburg.

For once, businesses may actually welcome the plethora of public holidays this year. Many companies, particularly manufacturers, have implemented short-time policies due to the economic downturn, which has led to a drop in demand.

Zama Phakati, spokeswoman for the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said the city’s tourism sector will cash in on the plethora of public holidays.

Durban will attract scores of visitors from India and elsewhere once the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament begins in mid-April, the DCCI’s Jane Pillay added.

Durban will host 16 IPL matches.

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