School Holidays: Are two weeks enough?

The fact that the school holiday this time is only two weeks, has evoked different views from students, teachers, parents as well as other key education stakeholders.The last few weeks of the school term tend to take the same trend in many schools around the country. The academic fatigue on the faces of the students is quite clear. The ones who used to dress so smartly will hesitate to look neater only coming to class as if to fulfill a ritual. When not thinking of academics, the average student is often preoccupied with plans for the holiday that is around the corner. The obsession is often carried further by students keeping a countdown to the day when the term will officially come to an end.

The fact that the school holiday this time is only two weeks, has evoked different views from students, teachers, parents as well as other key education stakeholders.

The last few weeks of the school term tend to take the same trend in many schools around the country. The academic fatigue on the faces of the students is quite clear. The ones who used to dress so smartly will hesitate to look neater only coming to class as if to fulfill a ritual.

When not thinking of academics, the average student is often preoccupied with plans for the holiday that is around the corner. The obsession is often carried further by students keeping a countdown to the day when the term will officially come to an end.

However, all that anxiety may not be well paid since the holiday this time has been a mere two weeks. This is of course much shorter than the typical three weeks or the close to two months for the end of year holiday.

The fact that the holiday is a mere two weeks has evoked different views from students, teachers, parents as well as the key education sector administrators.

Grace Kwizera a Senior Four student at King David Academy says, “I think the changing of the second term holiday from three to just two weeks was not necessary.”

“I think this change has not only affected me but also other students. The holiday is meant for us to relax and do other activities that we don’t get to do while at school,” she added.

Grace insists that two weeks is too short for a holiday to be meaningful at all. “I think that all students deserve three weeks or a month’s respite from the three months that we spend at school,” she suggests.

She also added that some parents go through hardships to fully raise school fees for their children and therefore making the holiday shorter only serves to increase pressure on them since many schools insist that school fees is paid at the very beginning of the term.

In her parting shots she pointed out that a short holiday also means less time for children to spend time with their parents yet it is important for children to get parental advice from them.

Kamanzi Francoise a self employed mother says “I think the standard holiday for children should last a whole month because that gives more time for the parents to prepare themselves as far as paying school fees is concerned.”

She argues that parents who don’t have monthly paying jobs may may find it difficult to raise the school fees when the holiday is very short like this one.

“I can’t even accept my daughter to help with the house chores because she has a very short holiday and she has been through the examinations before she got home so I have to let her rest as much as possible,” she added.

Every parent expects their children to grow with a spirit of working but making them do work in a short holiday like this one is pressuring them and denying them a chance to get some rest from the school pressures.

A child’s mind needs to rest and resting does not mean sleeping 24-7 it also includes simply switching your mind from one schedule to another and feeds into the age old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

As a parent I think the Ministry of Education should publicise the school calendar much better so that all parents can make their annual plans with their children’s school needs inclusive.

“Holidays shouldn’t suddenly change from time to time because we were accustomed to three weeks and now we have to adjust to a much shorter holiday. If changes are made, the ministry should give the different reasons as to why there has been a change,” Kamanzi adds.

“All in all as a parent I want my child to get the best education without any inconveniences like being too busy and failing to give her advice when she goes astray or my inability to raise her school fees in time so that her studies are not interrupted,” she says.

Teachers speak out

Brain Kasawuli, head teacher of Alpha Community Academy says that when holidays are made too long, students’ slack on their studies and it becomes a challenge to get them back on track. 

“The holiday being short means children will have rest but still stay on track academically. The holiday’s shortness doesn’t affect the concentration of the teachers and our teachers are always prepared from the whole academic year so this doesn’t affect them in any way. Though I know this could affect the parents who don’t receive monthly salaries,” he said.

The head teacher at Kagarama Secondary School, Sam Nkurunziza was also in support of the short holiday.

“The length of the holidays depends on the way the academic calendar is planned. The second term holiday will be compensated with the long third term holiday which will starts from around October 25,” he points out.

“I know that it is not easy for parents to raise school fees for their children but all parents are required to at least have annual plans for their children,” he said.

Schools require parents to pay either all the school dues or half of the school fees. For the case of Kagarama S.S. students are expected to report to school with some school fees paid in order to help the school plan.

Why the short holiday

According to Emile Uwamahoro an official from the Education ministry, when the holidays are shortened like this one, the duration of the next school term is not affected.

“Parents should also know that when we are designing the school calendar we put in consideration other national activities like public holidays and the Genocide commemoration week.

Students’ being at school means that home costs reduce so parents should use this time to look for their children’s school fees. They should not wait for the holidays or school term to begin before paying up.

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