New school calendar for South Africa reduces holidays

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The Ministry of Primary Education has published the confirmed 2024 school calendar and added it to the 2023 calendar – published earlier this year.

The 2024 public school calendar begins on January 17, 2024 and ends on December 11, making a total of 203 school days — four more than in 2022 and 2023.

Also, there will be fewer school holidays in 2024, with only 25 days off in the calendar, compared to 32 days in 2023 and 33 in 2022.

To achieve this, the 2024 calendar is structured in such a way that school periods are not interrupted by so many public holidays, with schools losing only two days of public holidays – one day each in periods two and three. In 2022 and 2023, students lost eight days due to public holidays.

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Most public holidays in 2024 fall during the school holidays.

The department has had to make these changes to the calendar to compensate for the loss of education felt during the Covid-19 pandemic, which severely hampered learning capacity and learning hours.

The department estimated that students in disadvantaged communities in particular lost a grade due to a lack of contact time for education and a rotating learning system.

Closer examination revealed that the losses were felt particularly hard in the areas of math and science, as well as in the basic language in the basic stages.


School calendar 2023


School calendar 2024


New topics

The Department of Primary Education has already announced plans to introduce a number of new school subjects in the curriculum next year.

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In the 2022/2023 annual performance plan published in March, the department said it includes full implementation of coding and robotics for grades R-3 and 7 in the 2023 academic year.

In the third semester of the 2021 academic year, some schools initially introduced a trial curriculum for these subjects. It plans to expand these technology-focused subjects to other classes in subsequent years.

“The coding and robotics pilot for grades 4-6 and for grades 8 is planned for 2022 and will be followed by a class 9 pilot in 2023. Full implementation for grades 4-6 and 8 is planned for 2024, and Rank 9 in 2025,” the department said.

“As coding and robotics is a new initiative, the focus will be on upskilling teachers trained to teach this new subject in collaboration with higher education institutions.”

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The department said the new courses are part of a wider effort to better prepare South African students for the working world.

“Future careers require people with digital skills that will equip and enable them to function effectively in a digital age. The continued implementation of coding and robotics teaching will equip and expose students to digital literacy, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things,” it said.

“The industry notes that the future needs individuals who can build robots and other advanced machines and develop algorithms to code these machines.”


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