"They’ve completely messed up our holidays this year!" and other infuriated responses about the shortened December school holidays

Rar! Parents and teachers fire back on why they think the December 2018 holidays should be longer.
Rar! Parents and teachers fire back on why they think the December 2018 holidays should be longer.

We’ve reached that point in the year when you can practically smell the December holidays approaching. 

But hopes were more than dashed when parents realised that this year school holidays will begin two weeks into December as oppose to the usual start-of-month kick-off, with an earlier-than-usual starting date in 2019 too. It's not news, the dates have been set by the Department of Basic Education in 2017 already, but a few schools have now circulated petitions among parents so they can lobby the Deparment for a longer break for the learners.

Parent24 reached out to the Department who cited matric exams and readjusting the time frame for next year’s school calendar (December holidays will begin on the 4th next year) as reasons for the shorter break. Read the full statement here:

This is why the December holiday is shorter this year

We’ve received some potent responses from parents and teachers who, despite the department’s reasoning, just don’t get it. 

Check out their feedback below: 

“The Department of Education has completely messed up our holidays this year”

"I just read your article about the later closing date in December and early start date in January. 

"The Department of Education has completely messed up our holidays this year. We’re closing on Friday for a one-week holiday. One week?! And then our December holiday is two weeks shorter than usual.

"They’re using exams as an excuse. All our marks will be in and reports done by the first week of December. What on earth must we do with 37 kids until the end of term?! We need a decent break to be mentally ready and refreshed to start a new year. Next year we’ll all come back exhausted.

"Once we get all our school preparations done and Christmas we’ll have one week to spend with family or go on holiday. They pay us peanuts and steal our holidays too. So disappointing." 

How will the shorter break impact you? Tell us by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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“We as parents that have already made plans for the December period are being short-changed” 

"I as a parent think it’s unfair on the learners for schools to close only on the 13th. I think learners have waited the whole year for the December holidays and I feel that we as parents that have already made plans for the December period are being short-changed.

"I now have to change my plans at my cost because the department without consultation has taken this action to make their lives easier. They should prepare better and not penalise school kids and teachers alike.

"Schools should close at the start of December." 


N Swartz

“Shorter holiday keep kids safe and off the street” 

"If it were up to me school would close on the 15th as it seems like schools are the only places our kids are safe and the longer they are home the more bad habits they adopt... and with both parents working and not affording full-time nannies, it is very ideal.

"I second that they close later and open earlier in January. I’m happy."

Happy mom 

“It’s highly unfair to both learners and educators”

"I was truly flabbergasted at the closure date for 2018. If that be the case, then open at least a week later than the original closing date. It’s highly unfair to both learners and educators.

"Educators have to mark books on a regular basis, then they have to mark assessments, the final examination still has to be marked, then there is pre-moderation and post moderation completion of analysis, preparing for the awards evening, completion of portfolios, entering of marks, not excluding the fact that we still must teach while trying to complete curriculum coverage.

"Educators will be running around like headless chickens, our stress levels are way above normal and still trying to maintain discipline in our classrooms at the same time.

"By the time school starts in the new year, our holidays will be all but a blur. If learners dismiss earlier, say a week earlier, this will allow educators to focus on the greater task ahead."


“This decision has a far wider impact than the department seems to realise”

"The current dates will give children and teachers a maximum of four weeks holidays. This decision has a far wider impact than the department seems to realise.

"Families will struggle to arrange bookings, as holiday apartments and hotels will be overbooked. The importance of family time should not be underrated as it also serves as a time for emotional growth and bonding between parents and offspring and among siblings.

"Parents will not be prescribed whether and when they can take leave and I doubt that companies and businesses will accommodate employees to all take leave simultaneously during the shorter school holidays.

"Tourism will be hit hard, which will have a negative impact on the economy. Hotels and holiday spots will have two weeks less income during the busiest season. Many may have problems surviving the quieter times during the year. 

"Teaching is an emotionally draining career. More absentees can be expected among staff members during the next year. This will impact on teaching hours.

"The few that will benefit by being available for exam marking does not outweigh the many negative factors. It is possible that parents will decide to go leave on holiday before the schools close causing the classrooms to run empty.

"I do not see advantages for pupils, teachers or parents. This decision was made one-sided without proper consideration of the results and effects. We can only appeal to the department to reconsider."

C Loubser

“What good is there in people being exhausted and pushed beyond their limits”

"Burnout – educators and office staff experience burnout as the Department puts so much admin and work on staff – learners also need a proper break. What good is there in people being exhausted and pushed beyond their limits – take note of the increase in sick leave." 

My opinion 

“When my kids finish with the exams, they stay at home”

"For me, as a parent, it makes no difference because when my kids finish the exams, they stay at home and only go back the last two days." 


“Those making these decisions are, I fear, not teachers” 

"As an ex-teacher and now a parent of school-going children, I am appalled at the short duration of these holidays. Children have less than 4 weeks (only 3 Monday-to-Friday weeks) and teachers a paltry three.

"This is not enough to recover from a long and busy year. They will all start next year tired. I can't think of any country in the world with such meagre summer holidays. 

"I would like a complete revision to the holidays. Yes, give them extra days this year but I fear it is too late. A 6-week annual Christmas holiday would give everyone enough rest to start a year refreshed and enthusiastic. Simply adding more and more teaching time will not in itself improve our education system. 

"Those making these decisions are, I fear, not teachers. The well-being of our hardworking teachers should be paramount. And give our children time to play." 

A concerned parent

“I feel sorry for children now” 

"No wonder there are so many anxiety problems and suicides amongst kids. The curriculum was simpler, the assessments were fewer and the holidays were much longer when I was a kid. I feel sorry for children now." 

“It is a case of farting against thunder where trying to ensure the participation of learners at the end of term” 

"As a teacher in the senior phase here is my honest weigh-in: 

"The dates should be adjusted because as soon as our senior phase children are finished writing their exams the absenteeism rises exponentially. 

"This has a negative repercussion upon our ex-model C school as it appears as though we have students missing and not willing to be present at school once their examinations are completed. These absenteeisms are recorded onto a daily register which is then uploaded digitally for the department to inspect. 

"It reflects poorly on the school, yet can you blame any child for not wanting to wake up at 05:00 to come to school at 07:00 to do... nothing??? Once their final exams have been completed, there is no “threat” of missing work or assessments as it has all been finalized. 

"I personally think it is a fruitless endeavour to convince the learners to attend school when there is no work to be done. It adds strain to the teachers as they have a limited time frame within which to evaluate and control their exams as well as record the marks, and now they have to monitor learners who have no work to keep them occupied and quiet so naturally they will be talking and joking and sitting in class distracting the teacher from this very important task at hand. 

"Let the learners have the freedom to be at home. I already have 5 absent learners this week and according to them, 6 learners have stated that they won’t be coming to class from Wednesday. It is a case of farting against thunder where trying to ensure the participation of learners at the end of term once the assessments have been finalized. 

"Let them be kids! Give them their freedom and holiday!"

“I don't have a problem as long as it suits our hardworking teachers” 

"This is Stella from Potchefstroom in the North West. I have children in [two schools in Potch]. I don't have a problem with the holidays starting earlier as long as it suits our hardworking and dedicated teachers." 


“I think it is absolutely ridiculous” 

"When I first heard about the shortened holidays I was infuriated. Not because of the late ending, but because of the very early start. I remember last year the exams ended on the 17th of November, but this year it will end on the 23rd. Thus, chipping away a week of holiday, then the holiday ends a week earlier.

"Thus, our holiday goes from close on 2 months last year to a month and a half this year. I think it is absolutely ridiculous, especially in high school. You work very hard and the December holiday is something you look forward to for the whole year, and now just to find out that it has drastically been shortened. Not a good decision.

"They did not take our learners into consideration on this one. And because it affects us directly I feel that we should also have been allowed to raise our opinions on this decision and more schools need to step in and ask to close earlier for the learners."

“I am so glad my kid has only one more year at school” 

"My comment on the short December holiday is simple: Quality over quantity.  

"SA education is in a process of dumbing down our kids! And the more days spent at school will not fix this.

"The solution is dedicated teachers who pitch up at school and actually teach. My niece and nephew attend high school in the EC. Teachers are absent for half the lessons and don't understand the content they're teaching when they do pitch up. The kids are just left to their own devices.

"I am so glad my kid has only one more year at school. I've seen the effects of indecision, policy change, curriculum change, and "leadership" change play havoc with our children and educators alike. None of it beneficial to the stakeholders of the SA education system.

"What the ANC government has done to our education system is a violation of our basic human rights. It is unconstitutional. In fact, it is criminal.

"The appointment of heads of government portfolios needs to be strategic, not political, THAT is what will shift SA out if this quagmire. Send the best man for the job to do it." 


“We don’t want to raise children that are so focused on working hard but don’t have time to be joyful” 

"I do recommend that the schools close earlier for learners for the following reasons:

  • It’s been a long year and learners need a proper holiday/break.
  • During the year learners have homework and extra curriculum activities and never really get to relax and be children.
  • Even in holidays, they have to attend some other classes to sharpen their skills and intellect with regards to subjects which is beyond challenging.
  • Children only have December holidays to fully switch off from the year’s demands and activities.
  • The Curriculum is so advanced that learners feel they have to study 24/7 to stay ahead or be in just in control of all their demanding schedules.

"Please consider the earlier closure of schools for the learners. In society today, you don’t hear kids playing outside or laughing much nor joyfully singing. We are draining their joy with all this pressure and demands of a good education.

"We don’t want to raise children that are so focused on working hard and achieving goals but don’t have time to be joyful in all other aspects of their lives. If we look at the education environment we see so much disrespect coming from learners towards teachers and peers alike. 

"The minority know about respect and manners while the majority have lost their balance in this regard. Somewhere, somehow, we as parents and the education system went wrong. 

"They need this break to get back to basics and to switch off from all the pressures that entails the school environment."

Thank you, 


“It just doesn't make sense”

"Schools should close the first week of December. In previous years there used to be between 198 and 202 school days per YEAR. 2018 there is 206. Doesn't that already prove a point? 7 days longer than the last 20+ years.

"School exams end at the end of November. If scholars go to school after that then they are full of mischief because of boredom. There is nothing else that they will learn as the syllabus has been completed. Teaching staff are rushing to complete marking exams and getting reports ready. Now they still have to worry about having a full class of bored pupils. Not going to work. No sorry, be practical.

"It just doesn't make sense. Close schools the first week and pupils can go and collect reports on 12 December!!!" 

“Teachers need a break too!”

"I am a mom of a Grade 3 pupil in Athlone. I was just as concerned about the school holidays being that short. My concern was not about the late closing, but it was more about school reopening very early in January. The kids have worked hard throughout the year.

"Many families go on holiday after Christmas or after New Year time but unfortunately for I cannot do so this time around because school reopens too early.

"Stationery has to be bought and kids have to be mentally prepared for the back to school. While some moms and dads are still on leave their kids will be going to school.

"They should have thought about this before setting the dates. Teachers need a break too!"

B Malagas

How will the shorter break impact you? Tell us by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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