Why inland and coastal schools are opening at the same time this year

Inland and coastal pupils will return to school on Wednesday. File photo.
Image: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

It has been common for coastal schools to open a week after inland schools‚ but this has changed in 2024 due to public holidays and the upcoming general elections.

Schools are expected to reopen on Wednesday‚ and unlike previous years‚ all public schools will resume academic programmes on the same day.

Previously inland schools opened in the second week of January while coastal schools resumed in the third week. However‚ the total school days remained the same at 203 and the calendar eventually merged during the year.

National department of basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said this was done to minimise traffic congestion on roads.

“We wanted to contribute to traffic on the roads and reduce accidents so the whole country is not moving at the same time‚ which is what contributes to different opening dates” he said.

This year pupils in coastal schools will return to school a week earlier.

Mhlanga said this is due to public holidays and the national general elections‚ when schools are often used as voting stations.

“This year we have elections. We don’t know when elections are going to be held and since we don’t know‚ we have to play it safe and make everyone open and close at the same time so schools can be used as voting stations‚” he said.

Different departments and stakeholders are involved in determining the academic calendar‚ including the department of transport‚ the tourism sector‚ home affairs and basic education‚ who look at events taking place in the year‚ Mhlanga said.

“We look at different things like the structure of the national calendar‚ when the public holidays will be and if there will be disruptions should we make a single academic calendar or a staggered calendar.”

Again‚ the 2024 calendar year will comprise 203 school days and 26 days are put aside for school holidays and two public holidays during the academic period.

Meanwhile‚ the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) urged scholar transport operators to prioritise the roadworthiness of their vehicles‚ including renewal of permits‚ before schools reopen.

Spokesperson Simon Zwane said scholar transport operators and drivers are legally obligated to ensure their vehicles are in good condition and adhere to strict safety protocols and road regulations.

These include vehicle roadworthiness checks‚ regular maintenance of vehicles‚ document renewal‚ including licence discs‚ and driver training and certification.

“The RTMC emphasises that compliance is not only a legal obligation but a moral responsibility towards the safety and wellbeing of pupils.

“We call on all scholar transport operators to take immediate action in reviewing and enhancing the safety measures within their operations. Your co-operation is crucial in creating a secure and reliable transportation system for our pupils.”


Source: ARENA Holdings.