The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has called for changes to South Africa’s 2023 and 2024 school calendars to better align provincial systems.

In a statement following its national executive committee meeting on Sunday (19 September), the union said that it will make a formal call for a review of the government’s school calendar policy to allow future calendars to accommodate for the early closure of schools in the fourth term in the first week of December.

The union also wants to introduce a single calendar for both inland and coastal clusters.

After two years of Covid-19 lockdowns which significantly impacted teaching time, both the 2022 and the 2023 calendar will see a return to some normality with the return of ‘staggered’ open dates for both inland and coastal provinces.

This staggered date has historically accommodated people who were travelling from holidays – another part of South African life that has been significantly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022, inland schools will open from 12 January, while coastal schools are set to open from 19 January. The closing date for both inland and coastal schools is 14 December.

This equates to 199 actual school days for students.

Inland cluster 2022 school calendar

Coastal cluster school calendar 2022 

South Africa’s primary schools (Grades R – 7) returned to full-time teaching at the end of July as part of the country’s move to an adjusted level 3 lockdown.

However, the country’s high school students have continued to work rotationally, leading to concerns around a loss in learning time.

Under the current rotational system, high schools in South Africa operate under one of three systems. Students are either expected to attend school physically every second day, every second week or once a day in a morning or afternoon slot.

In the downtime, students are expected to complete assigned work to make sure they don’t fall behind the curriculum. A number of schools have also incorporated online and digital learning platforms for students. Primary school students have returned to school full-time.

The Department of Basic Education has developed a three-year recovery plan to help make up for teaching time lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, said minister Angie Motshekga.

Motshekga said that the Recovery Annual Teaching Plan accounts for each subject in each grade and will help teachers focus on key concepts, content, and skills to be taught per subject over the next three years.

“The curriculum statement for each grade and subject was evaluated by a panel of curriculum content experts, and the content was reduced to ensure that only the core concepts, knowledge and skills are taught for each subject and grade.

“It is anticipated that over the next three years, learners would have covered the core content in the subject, and the curriculum statement, post the three year period, would be reviewed to take learners forward in their learning process,” she said.

*First appeared in BusinessTech