Two more days off school

2011-06-08 00:00

FRIDAY next week has been declared a school holiday, adding to Youth Day on Thursday, to create one of two new long-weekends on South Africa’s calendar. To add to parents woes, August 8 will now also be an unexpected day off.

Basic Education spokesperson Granville Whittle said yesterday pupils in all provinces will get June 17 and August 8 off because of the proximity of these dates to public holidays.

“What happens is that many parents take long holidays themselves, they put in leave for those days and they keep kids out of school and as aresult it disrupts [the] school programme,” Whittle said.

He added that the extra days lost will not affect the quality of education “as the two days were factored into the calendar over 18 months ago”.

He said the number of teaching days this year will remain above the 195 day minimum prescribed by government.

Meanwhile, Equal Education’s Yoliswa Dwane said the two additional school holidays were against government’s attempts to increase teaching time.

The schools close for the winter holidays on Friday June 24 and open again on July 18.

Parents polled by Beeld on the extra holidays expressed their dismay at the unexpected “bonus”.

“The department must decide if it wants children to work or to play. They already got how many extra days on top of the April holidays and they did not go to school on May 18 — which was the municipal voting day,” said one parent.

Another parent said the department ignored the fact that most parents cannot afford “to just go on holiday” and would have to work on the two days, during which time young children will have to be cared for.

The Witness recently reported how financial journalist Alec Hogg listed three top reasons for Eastern countries’ burgeoning success — “education, education and education”.

Chinese and Korean children study up to 12 hours a day, six days a week, Hogg noted.

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