Angie Motshekga denies plan to scrap October school holidays
The department of basic education has denied it plans to scrap this year’s spring holidays due to lost teaching time.
Minister Angie Motshekga and director-general (DG) Mathanzima Mweli denied the department was planning to do away with the holidays.
They were addressing parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education on Tuesday after news broke last week that the department may scrap the holidays due to lost teaching time.
Schools are meant to go on break from October 4 to 8.
TimesLIVE last week quoted basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga as saying the department concluded consultations with unions regarding the possibility of postponing the October holidays, but a decision on the matter was still to be made.
Research by the department shows between 50% and 75% of a normal year of teaching was lost, according to Dr Stephen Taylor, director of research for the department.
Motshekga told the committee on Tuesday the department was concerned about the time lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
“We are not scrapping holidays. The DG reported we have lost lots of time. In January we lost lots of days and he said we will alter the curriculum so we can have the full number of days we are supposed to be teaching. With the second wave, the DG explained, we also lost a week because we were forced to close early.
“What we have committed ourselves to as a department was that we are going to look for days in the remaining days to compensate for those lost. It’s not scrapping. It’s our efforts to recover the days lost because of the problems that came with Covid-19,” said Motshekga.
Teacher unions and student governing bodies had last week expressed their unhappiness with the possible scrapping of the October holidays, as apparently discussed by the council of education ministers (CEM) and heads of education departments committee (Hedcom).
The CEM is headed by Motshekga and includes all provincial education MECs, while Hedcom is led by Mweli and has provincial heads of departments as its members.
Mweli said the CEM had not taken a final decision on the matter and there was only a recommendation from Hedcom.