Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has published the new 2022 calendar for South African public schools.
The calendar will see the country’s inland provinces officially begin the school year on 12 January and conclude on 14 December. This equates to 199 actual school days across the four terms including the holidays.
The coastal cluster of schools will start a week later on 19 January and conclude on 14 December, with the extra days made up through slightly longer terms throughout the year.
Education experts have already warned that the delayed 2021 school calendar, in combination with lost teaching time in 2020, is likely to have a significant impact on South African students.
After losing months of teaching time in 202o due to the Covid-19 lockdown, schools had a delayed start of a month in 2021 due to the resurgence of second Covid-19 wave.
In a briefing to parliament in January, the Department of Education’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli said that younger students are particularly at risk of forgetting about skills and knowledge acquired at school if they stop learning for extended periods of time.
“This creates a challenge of ‘accumulated gaps’ as they continue into further grades,” he said.
To help make up for the lost teaching time, Motshekga has gazetted updated lockdown regulations for South Africa’s schools.
A key change will see primary school pupils and pupils with special needs return to full-time learning from the end of July.
Currently, most students in South Africa are learning in a shift system, with a large amount of learning and coursework still expected to be done at home in an effort to increase social distancing.
Motshekga said her department will now use a risk-adjusted differentiated strategy – where school attendance is determined by the direction the pandemic is taking in specific districts or the country as a whole.