Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
THE first school term calendar has been shortened to 10 weeks for learning, compared to 13 weeks in previous terms. Schools opened on January 12 and will close on March 23, before the usual closing date during the first week of April. The school term has been shortened by the Easter holidays that start on March 25 ending March 28.
The government has said it has taken note of the short learning period and has encouraged its workforce to utilise the available time to teach. Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director, Boithathelo Mnguni, said they were maximising all the available time to teach.
“This year we did something different, on the opening day we made sure that it became a learning day as we’re trying to maximise all the time we have. There was no excuse for not teaching on that day,” she said.
In previous years, some teachers had resorted to extra lessons for pupils at an extra cost during the holidays, claiming that they would not have finished the prescribed work during the term.
Last year, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora banned holiday lessons saying the time that the ministry sets for learning is adequate. The minister said schools that wanted to conduct lessons during the holidays, particularly classes writing national public examinations, had to seek authority first stating the reasons.
Meanwhile, Dokora has clarified that Lower Sixth pupils will be enrolled in the first term. He said the planned enrolment of Lower Sixth pupils in the second term will not be implemented this year.
Parents and other stakeholders have complained about the enrolment of Lower Sixth pupils in the last month of the first term, although they pay school fees in full. Dokora said: “This year, the ministry is going to concentrate on seminars and workshops with stakeholders so that everyone is updated.
“The year 2016 is phase one of the roll out plan. There is no implementation of ideas yet.” Dokora said phase two would come in 2017 when adopted ideas would be implemented. He said the ministry’s aim was to ensure the new curriculum would be fully implemented by that year.
Dokora’s deputy, Professor Paul Mavhima, added: “Schools should be considerate and charge fees that are reasonable, taking into account the number of days that Lower Sixth pupils spend at school in the first term.”