South Africa, to some extent, has two distinct school calendars, one for public and another one for private schools. The one for public institutions breaks the year into four terms while that for private learning centers tends to break the year into either three or four semesters. This means that private school holidays might differ from government establishment school holidays in 2020.
This year, things have been different since all academic establishments across the country have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Learning institutions have been closed for almost five months now to curb the spread of the virus.
School calendar 2020
In 2020, the majority of institutions in South Africa (both private and public) will use the same calendar for school holidays and term dates, as shown in the tables below. However, it is imperative to note that these dates are subject to revision by the Department of Basic Education. Hence, it is advisable to keep checking the official website regularly for any changes that may occur.
The academic calendar for the country was revised because of the pandemic. The Department of Education released a new education programme for the year on 11 August 2020. According to it, the calendar will be as follows:
South African government and private school terms 2020
The table below shows various public school terms duration in 2020 before the coronavirus. This calendar applies to the nine provinces; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, and Western Cape.
Independent schools South Africa
Private learning institutions have had different schedules from the public ones. Depending on the administrations, the programmes of independent learning institutions vary. Here are the 3-term and 4-term calendars before the pandemic.
This is the private school 4-term calendar.
Here is the three-term calendar for private schools.
All public schools will break from 27 July 2020 and the school arrangements after the break are as follows:
1. Week 1, 27 July: The Principal and the School Management Team will set up the requirements staff will follow to ensure they are in compliance with the directives from the Ministry of Health.
2. Week 2, 3-7 August: Grade 4 and School of Skill students and teachers will reopen on 3 August. The Principal will be in attendance. Health officials will also be present to ensure that rules on social distancing and general health will be followed and will assist in the distribution of learning material.
3. Week 3, 11–14 August: Grade seven students and teacher support staff will reopen on 11 August. Health officials, who are at school, will assist in ensuring compliance with the health, safety, and social distancing requirements and help in the distribution of learning material and the roll-out of the daily school feeding programme for all qualifying learners.
4. Week 4, 17– 21 August: All officials will return to their respective institutions to prepare for the reopening of the rest of the graders. Health officials will be present to make sure that the COVID-19 regulations are followed.
- Week 5, 24 August: The following learners will get back to studies:
- Grade R; Grade 1; Grade 2; Grade 3; Grade 4; and Grade 6;
- Grade 9; Grade 10; and Grade 11
- Schools of Skill: Year 1; Year 2; and Year 3;
- Schools with Learners with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (“LSPID”): Year 1; Year 2; and Year 3;
- Schools for Learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (“SID”): Grade R; Grade 1; Grade 2; Grade 3; and final year (Occupational); and
- Schools with autistic learners: Junior group (below 13 years), Senior Group (13 years and above), and final year (18 years and above).
6. Week 6, 31 August: Learners in the following grades or schools will return to school on 31 August 2020:
- Grade 5 and Grade 8; and Schools for Learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (“SID”): Grade 4 and Grade 5.
School holidays 2020 South Africa
Both private and public learning institutions have the same school holidays 2020. This is the time that students get to relax and spend time with family. Here are the private and public school holidays 2020.
Easter holidays (Good Friday & Family Day)
For a long time now, Easter has been celebrated as a typical Christian holiday in South Africa. Though Easter holidays comprise of Good Friday and Easter Monday in most countries, in South Africa, Easter Monday is now known as Family Day. It was renamed in 1995 to accommodate non-Christians in the festivities.
Freedom Day is a special holiday that enables South Africans to celebrate the end of the oppressive apartheid rule. This culminated in the very first multi-racial election in the country. Freedom Day was celebrated on Saturday, April 27th. As a national public holiday, it is a very important occasion for the native South Africans as well as other different ethnic groups. Hence, schools will remain closed on the day.
This holiday was celebrated on Wednesday, May 1st in the South African school calendar and no studies are conducted on this day. Workers’ day was originally born out of a prolonged struggle for the rights of workers as well as social justice in the 1800s. The day has been an international holiday in several countries from 1891. In South Africa, Workers’ Day has only been officially recognized and celebrated since the 1994 first democratic elections.
National Women’s Day
The National Women’s Day is a national holiday used to recognize women's achievements in South Africa. This year, the holiday was celebrated on Friday, August 9th. The day is a commemoration of the famous 1956 march of a 20,000-strong crowd of women who marched on the Pretoria Union Buildings. They marched in protest against the oppressive Pass Laws, which stipulated that all “black” people apply for travel passes whenever they wanted to travel within South Africa.
Other school holidays in South Africa 2020 include:
- 1 January -New Year’s Day
- 21 March - Human Rights Day
- 13 April - Family Day
- 16 June - Youth Day
- 10 August - Public Holiday
- 24 September - Heritage Day
- 16 December - Day of Reconciliation
- 25 December - Christmas Day
- 26 December - Day of Goodwill
School calendar 2021
The Department of Basic Education also released the learning schedule for 2021 on 30 October 2019. The schedule includes opening and closing dates as well as public holidays for the year 2021. However, be on the lookout for any changes as the programme may be updated.
Public and school holidays 2021
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
- 21 March: Human Rights Day
- 22 March: Public Holiday
- 02 April: Good Friday
- 05 April: Family Day
- 27 April: Freedom Day
- 26 April: School Holiday
- 1 May: Workers’ Day
- 16 June: Youth Day
- 9 August: National Women’s Day
- 24 September: Heritage Day
- 16 December: Day of Reconciliation
- 25 December: Christmas Day
- 26 December: Day of Goodwill
It should be noted that both public and private school holidays give children the much-needed break from studies. Celebrating public holidays also instils a sense of patriotism in the young South Africans. Most of the students seize holiday opportunities to spend some quality time with their families and loved ones. Parents also find it important to know the school terms and holiday calendars in advance so that they begin planning early enough on how they will spend the time with their children.
Briefly.co.za on Friday covered the story of Prosper Batariwah, a young man who graduated with first degree honours in law from the University of Ghana. Prosper took to social media to celebrate his achievement. He was the president of the Law Students Union (LSU) of the University.