Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga confirmed on Sunday during a press briefing that the amended 2021 school calendar must be retained as it was from its very last amendment. She said after a meeting with the nine MECs of education on Friday it was decided that the October holidays will not be used to “to claw back lost time”. This was after the July holidays were extended by a week after a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Instead, the minister said that lost teaching time would have to be recovered on a school or district level, though this must also be “within reason”. Under the current 2021 school calendar, government school students are on holiday from 1 October until 11 October.

The department’s initial proposal to do away with the holidays scheduled from October 4 was slammed by teacher unions, governing body associations and a principals’ association. The five teacher unions wrote to Motshekga earlier this month to express disappointment about not being consulted on her department’s “decision” to scrap the holidays. In the joint letter dated August 19, the unions said the decisions by the council of education ministers (CEM) and the heads of education departments’ committee (Hedcom) “are regrettably placing us on a possible course of conflict”. At the time, the department said there was no truth that a final decision had been made.

Last week, the Department of Basic Education released the results of the 2021 May/June exams. “The examination was successfully administered, despite the enormous challenges relating to the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Motshekga.

“The prevalence of examination irregularities of a serious nature, such as imposters, crib notes, and possession of cell phones during the writing, have declined compared to previous years.”She also voiced her concern about the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in the country. “Let us be clear that it is not just a problem of Gauteng, it is a national crisis. “Most of these teenagers are of school-going age. It is a serious indictment on all of us as a society and we really need to reflect deeply on this crisis and take urgent action to arrest the moral decay,” she said. #ladi_jaja?

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