6 December 2017

Burundi: Shortening Holidays for Primary and Secondary Pupils May Affect School Results

The Ministry of Education has recently decided to shorten holiday periods in primary and secondary schools. Education professionals say this decision may negatively affect school results.

Jeanine Ihorihoze, Managing Director at the Education Ministry, said there is a need to increase the teaching period in order to complete the programs. "It has been observed that the year ends before schools have completed their curricula", she says adding that the measure will save 6 weeks.

She says the measure will be effective from the second trimester holidays. However, there is no precision whether or not the decision will be applied for the first trimester holidays that are approaching.

Nevertheless, Ihorihoze says this is a temporary decision. She says the ministry of education plans to hold a meeting to definitively rule on this measure. "The meeting will bring together the central administration, provincial directors of education, some school directors, etc. to see its effectiveness," says Ihorihoze adding that other strategies will be devised once this decision proves ineffective.

Rémy Nsengiyumva, the chairman of the Teachers' Union -STEB says he doubts the effectiveness of the measure: "Decreasing the holiday's period to increase the hours of study hoping for an increase in success rate is something that's worth discussing," he says adding that all intellectual work requires rest.

Emmanuel Mashandari, the chairman of Burundian teachers' Union-CONAPES says neither pupils nor teachers will benefit from this decision.

He says pupils/students need to live a different life for some time. "They need holidays for social integration; they need to live another different life with their parents and relatives. The decision to shorten them is not good at all", he says.

Mashandari says teachers need holidays not only to get rest but also to be prepared for the next lessons. "Teachers do not work only in classrooms like some people think. They need to correct copies, prepare lessons and carry out some research as well, the reason why they need enough holidays," he says.

CONAPES chairman says this is a hasty decision which may negatively affect school results.

The unionists say the ministry has not consulted them before taking it.

Holidays will now go from two to one week for the 1st and 2nd trimesters and from two months to one for the summer holidays.

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