South Africa modifies school calendar ahead of 2010 World Cup

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South Africa, hosts of 2010 soccer world cup is planning to close schools for five weeks to avoid pupil and teacher absenteeism and a chaotic transport system.

The National Education Department is behind the move. A proposed school calendar for South African public schools has been gazetted
and posted on the department’s website in the hope of getting comments from interested parties.

The calendar deviates from the usual three to four weeks mid-year break in June/July and will run from June 10 to July 12, 2010. It will result in pupils enjoying a longer break compared to previous years as it amounts to 33 days, including weekends and one public holiday.

Chief director responsible for national and provincial co-ordination Sihle
Mlambo is quoted as saying the department had drawn up the proposal after receiving written requests from the National Transport Department and hospitality stakeholders to extend school holidays over the World Cup period.

“You can imagine if schools are open during that period. In the written
requests, the department was asked to consider things like infrastructure, absenteeism and transportation issues.”

Mlambo said that, with the influx of thousands of tourists into the country impacting on the hospitality and transport industry for the major event, it would only be sensible to extend the break.

“The World Cup is a major event. Yes, it will come with some disruptions, but we want to keep the disruptions as minimal for the education system of the country as possible.”

Although the break would be much longer, the proposed calendar would still comply with the stipulated policy of between 195 and 200 actual school days per year. They intend to cut all other holidays.

The calendar is still a draft proposal but the department legally had to
finalise any year’s school calendar 18 months in advance – meaning that by June this year the 2010 calendar would have to be approved and printed.

Meanwhile, the South African government will spend “upwards” of R30
billion on the 2010 Soccer World Cup a report released Saturday showed. R20 billion has so far been allocated as direct investment in infrastructure.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka who received the report from Sports Minister Mike Stofile admitted that “in some instance” budget
estimations were conservative and adjustments and increases had to be made.

“This expenditure is not open ended, the capping must continue; in most of the stadiums we have reached a point where we have said the ultimate budget has been achieved, we don’t have any wild expenditure plans,” Mlambo-Ngcuka is quoted as saying.

With only 815 days before the 2010 World Cup kick-off, Stofile said government preparations for the event were on track. “This report shows that we have complied with literally every guarantee
that we have made, we even went beyond that,” he said.

Preparations for transport, information and communication technologies,
electricity supply, safety and security, economic and social legacy projects, tourism and communication, were underway.

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