All public and private schools have started the second term of 2017-2018 school year this 2 January. At Lycée Gisenyi, a boarding school located in the capital Bujumbura, pupils were coming in twos and threes. Nunu Jacqueline, headmistress of the school, says students are few due to the last festivity of the New Year for some and lack of transportation and school fees for others. "We believe that all of them will be present by the end of the day," she says.
At Lycée Vugizo, the majority of pupils were present on the first day. Alphonse Ndayizigiye, headmaster of Lycée Clarté Notre Dame de Vugizo, has said day pupils were late and those living inside the school were not many. He says even those who are present are not well prepared to start the new term given different reasons including poverty in their families. "Parents may lack transport fares and school fees to send them to school on time," he says.
Students say it is not easy to start another term after only one week of holidays while they were accustomed to a two-week one.
Jean Darius Ndikumana, a student in 2nd class in language section at Lycée Gisenyi says one week is not enough for students to have a rest and for parents to look for money for their school materials and transportation. "I've come without school fees. If the school sends me back home, I don't know what I will do. It's a problem", he says adding that those who were present on the first day live near the school. "Some of us pay themselves school fees. I am afraid my parents cannot afford to get my school fees within one week", he says.
Happy Friday Shaza, a student at Lycée Vugizo says the duration of the holidays was too short and they didn't have enough time to look for previous exams and exercises to prepare well the forthcoming state exam. "Even if we are in the final year, we need sufficient time to rest and do our own researches", she says.
Habiyambere Nicodème, a teacher at Lycée Gisenyi says a week for holidays is too short to prepare the next lessons. "We are human beings, we need time to rest and prepare the next lessons quietly", he says.
Emmanuel Mashandari, the chairman of the teachers' union [CONAPES] urges the ministry of education to review the decision taken to shorten the duration of holidays.
"The Ministry of education told us that the number of hours doesn't match with the international standards", he says.
The teaching hours are estimated at 640 per year while the international standard is estimated at between 840 and 1050 hours per year. Mashandari also says the Ministry of education has increased them per day. "Students must now spend eight hours in classrooms instead of seven", he says.
The Ministry of Education has recently decided to shorten holiday periods in primary and secondary schools in order to increase the teaching period so as to complete the programs.