Updated school calendars show slow return to ‘normal’ in South Africa

The Department of Basic Education has published its proposed 2022 school calendar as well as the amended school calendar for 2021, showing life slowly returning to normal for the education sector after being severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic this year.

The country’s schools first closed on 18 March as the country braced for its original five-week lockdown. After a number of false starts, the government opted for a phased return of different grades as late as August.

The loss of teaching times as well as later than expected matric exams means that schools will reopen later than planned in 2021, with teachers set to return on 25 January and pupils set to return on 27 January. The first term is set to conclude on 31 March.

The amended 2021 calendar envisages the school year ending on 8 December for students and 10 December for staff.

The later start to the year is partly due to the later matric examinations which were rescheduled to accommodate the disruptions caused by the pandemic, said Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga in October.

“As we had already announced before, the June Senior Certificate examination was postponed, and will now be written together with the National Senior Certificate examination in November 2020,” she said.

“The examination timetable for the combined June and November examination had to be amended; so that this examination commences in November, instead of October 2020, as was initially planned.”

Updated 2021 calendar

Proposed 2022 calendar (inland)

The proposed calendar for the 2022 school year, published on Wednesday (11 November) will see holidays and term dates largely return to normal, a positive sign that the pandemic has not significantly impacted teaching time.

The inland cluster of provinces – including the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West – are set to return to school on 12 January 2022 and conclude on 14 December 2022.

Proposed 2022 calendar (coastal)

The coastal cluster of provinces – including the Eastern Cape, KZN, Northern Cape and Western Cape – are set to start a week later on 19 January 2022.

The updated calendars come as the country holds its largest matric examination period ever, with more than a million students expected to write.

“The combined examination makes this the largest public examination that has been administered in our country,” Motshekga said.

“More than 1 million (1,058,699) candidates, will sit for the examinations; and we certainly have never had to manage a number that large before.  It is going to be a huge task, but one that we will need to ensure it is managed and coordinated smoothly.”

The writing of the 2020 NSC examination, commence on 5 November 2020 and will conclude on the 15 December 2020.

Read: Government is hiring 200,000 assistants to help in South Africa’s schools – how to apply

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Updated school calendars show slow return to ‘normal’ in South Africa