Earlier this evening President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation to two discuss two important issues impacting the country at the moment – schools and corruption. The former was addressed first, with the President confirming that public schools will go on a four week break starting 27th July.

At the time of writing it remains to be seen what kind of break private schools will receive, or whether they will indeed get one, but the President also confirmed that Matric and Grade 7 students would be on breaks for a shorter amount of time.

More specifically those in Grade 12 will get one week, and those in Grade 7 will get two weeks. The rest of the Grades will be off from 27th July to 24th August.

The decision is said not to be taken lightly, with Ramaphosa noting that the Minister for Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, met with an estimated 60 organisations over the past few days in order to make a call that would be ideal for all given the circumstances.

Given the recent calls to call off the school year entirely, not only for the health and wellbeing of students, but teachers too, this latest decision will no doubt earn the President and his Cabinet a lot of criticism.

With South Africa’s COVID-19 numbers climbing sharply over the past few weeks, it is unclear whether this played as large a factor as it should have in the decision.

We should get greater detail as to how this break will be carried out, as well as what other plans will be put in place by the Department of Basic Education in coming days. The same will likely go for what will happen at private schools, along with tertiary institutions.

For now though, it looks like government is intent on finishing the 2020 curriculum, regardless of what risk COVID-19 poses.

How public school educators, learners and parents will react to this news, remains to be seen.

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