'No intention of cancelling our holidays': Teachers react to proposal to scrap school holiday

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Readers wrote to Parent24 expressing their feelings about these efforts to maintain a minimum of 200 school days a year, and the consensus among teachers is clear.
Readers wrote to Parent24 expressing their feelings about these efforts to maintain a minimum of 200 school days a year, and the consensus among teachers is clear.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) recently announced a proposal to scrap the October school holidays in order to make up for the lost time, and the decision has been met with some contention. 

The third term school holidays were due to take place from 4 October to 11 October, but given the number of school disruptions brought on by the pandemic, the government is proposing that the five days off be used as teaching days for school pupils to catch up with the curriculum. 

Readers wrote to Parent24 expressing their feelings about these efforts to maintain a minimum of 200 school days a year, and the consensus among teachers is clear.

ALSO READ | 'It's a joke': Proposal to cancel October school holidays has parents outraged

"We are tired"

A teacher told Parent24, "I am overwhelmed with keeping up with the curriculum, trying to cover all the work for the year despite the challenges we have had. It is very draining to teach in a Covid-19 environment. We work non-stop without admin periods and this makes us tired. At breaks, we watch the kids to keep them socially distanced. We are tired at the end of each term and we need a holiday."

Another teacher who shares this view says, "I am distraught with the news of the possibility of the October holiday being canceled. It has been more than a year since I had a real holiday with my family. Every time we booked a holiday away, it was hard lockdown or not being allowed to leave the province, and so on." 

"Sure, there might be parents who would say that their children have horrible, lazy teachers who deserve to work through those 5 days of holiday. But what about the other teachers? Those who start at 6:30 - in class, for learners who struggle or simply come early, to keep them safe and warm? Those teachers who started WhatsApp groups at their own cost? Answering questions and teaching until after 20:00 at night?"

"Planning is done at night and over weekends, marking as well. Because those teachers teach during class time. Planning for the new term happens during the holiday. Teachers do not get paid overtime, but there are many of them going further than the extra mile. Please do not take this very short break away!"

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"Get rid of these shorter holidays"

Offering a difference of opinion, one reader wrote to Parent24, saying, "I have to admit I'm also a bit outraged….that school children are even getting holidays in these pandemic times.

"After last year’s very limited class time, they have a lot of catching up to do. Especially pupils from public schools, they are suffering and losing out the most. These parents complaining are probably the privileged minority, work-from-home parents who can afford to send their kids to private schools. 

"I say, get rid of these shorter holidays, give them 2 weeks in July and reduce December holidays to 3 weeks, as is the case with the rest of the population. They need to be conditioned from a young age to face the realities of a working life," he concluded. 

Another teacher shared on social media that she won't comply with any DBE demands. "Well, us teachers have no intention of canceling our booked holidays to teach ratty, over-tired children. Just saying. These children will not cope going through to December. Taking a holiday away isn’t helping anyone," she wrote.   

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"Exhausting circumstances"

Jonathan Dumakude Lujabe, an education training and development practitioner, wrote to tell us "Teachers and scholars are used to the regular intervals termly. Cancellation of the 5-day recess will not necessarily bring out the envisaged curriculum coverage by the DBE."

"Instead, we will see heightened teacher and scholar absenteeism during that week throughout the 4th term owing to fatigue, sickness and general disgruntlement by the decision to cancel the recess period," he added. 

Echoing this sentiment, a retired teacher told us they have "watched in deepest sympathy as the teachers throughout the country have held things together in horrific, exhausting circumstances."

"Teachers and children become exhausted as the term draws to an end. Everyone struggles to teach and be taught. The October break is a badly needed time for everyone to take a deep breath and gain enough energy to finish the year. No, the October break should definitely not be cancelled!"

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