COVID-19 EFFECTS

Are mid-term breaks necessary on condensed calendar?

Learners should be let to focus on their studies without undue disruptions

In Summary

• We are living in unprecedented times and therefore learners can do without luxuries such as half-term, in any case, learners are so much constrained with time to cover classwork.

• Most parents strongly share the position that there should be no half-term in the two terms and therefore this is a cry for help to Education CS George Magoha and his team at the Ministry of Education to consider the issue with the seriousness it deserves.

Learners at Katithini primary School
Learners at Katithini primary School
Image: Musembi Nzengu

With the disruption occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the school calendar had to be reworked so that the period lost during the long closure last year could be recouped.

Specifically, the first term was deemed to have been completed with the abrupt closure in March.

Therefore, most learners apart from those in Grade 4, Standard 8 and Form 4 resumed school for their second term of 2020 on January 4, which went on up to March 19, giving way to a break of seven weeks.

On May 10, schools opened for the third term of 2020 which runs up to July 16, a period of 10 weeks, after which there will be a one-week break.

Learners will then transition to their next classes on July 26, in a new academic calendar of 2021, with the first term running up to  October 10.

However, during this third term, which comprises 10 weeks, the school calendar indicates that there will be a half-term break from  June 3 to June 7. That comes in the fourth week of opening schools and learners having been at home for seven weeks.

Similarly, in the first term of 2021, there will be a half-term break from August 26 to August 29.

Learners have already had more than enough rest during the extended holidays of Covid-19 disruption plus the recent seven weeks holidays after the second term.

With curfew in place, it means learners travelling across the country have to spend a night on the road as they go home and another night as they go back to their respective schools.

The fatigue occasioned by such long haul travelling is so much that it negates the very essence of the break.

Additionally, travelling costs for learners in faraway schools are just too much for most parents to bear, given that they will have incurred such costs hardly a month prior.

Some schools even require that students must be accompanied back to school hence making the travelling costs double.

That being the case, why not run the two terms uninterrupted and close schools early by five days to compensate for the half-term period thereby extending the holidays to almost two weeks for each term?

That way the school calendar will remain uninterrupted and parents will also be saved the agony of raising money for travelling costs.

As is always the case, when learners resume after half-term, school principals will expect that fee balances are paid in full.

Why not let parents save on the travelling costs and have the money to pay school fees instead?

Is it really necessary for these half-term breaks in school terms made up of just ten weeks? Given the adverse effects of Covid-19 on the economy, all efforts must be mustered to cushion parents in every possible way.

We are living in unprecedented times and therefore learners can do without luxuries such as half-term, in any case, learners are so much constrained with time to cover classwork.

Let us allow learners to focus on their studies without undue disruptions that are even costly to parents who are struggling to meet basic needs.

Most parents strongly share the position that there should be no half-term in the two terms and therefore this is a cry for help to Education CS George Magoha and his team at the Ministry of Education to consider the issue with the seriousness it deserves.

Dr Patrick Dan Mukhongo comments on topical issues