Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the amended 2021 school calendar will be retained as is.
Addressing the media on Sunday, Motshekga reported that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met on Friday to consider inputs from stakeholders, following rounds of consultations regarding the already amended school calendar for the 2021 academic year.
"Three options emerged from the consultations, and these were presented to the CEM for consideration. In the end, CEM agreed that the amended 2021 school calendar must be retained as it was from its very last amendment - that the October vacation, will not be interfered with.
"CEM further recommended that the lost number of school days, should be recovered at district and school-level, but with reasonableness," the Minister said.
No COVID-19 vaccines for learners
Meanwhile, Motshekga stressed that there are currently no COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in the country for people under the age of 18.
"Contrary to the rumours on social media, there is no intention whatsoever to vaccinate children for anything else, other than what is already declared in the form for [health services]. Those spreading the rumours, we implore you to stop spreading such rumours, because you are causing anxiety and panic among our school communities," Motshekga said.
The Minister said the Department of Basic Education, in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Social Development, continue to provide health services to learners in schools through the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP).
"For children to receive these services, government requires permission from parents and guardians in writing. There is a form (SHS 1a), which has been distributed to schools, which must be completed by parents and guardians to give consent for the services to be rendered to learners.
"The health services include checking the child's health; deworming; routine immunisation against measles, polio, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer later in life; as well as checking for common health problems; provide health education; and indeed, mental health and psycho-social support.
"On the days when these services are rendered, parents are free to come to school with their children to obtain more information," Motshekga explained.
While acknowledging the legal limitations of parents and guardians consent, Motshekga said it is critical for parents and guardians of learners to allow the sector to provide the health services.
However, she encouraged all the 18-year-olds and older in schools to get vaccinated.
Significant number of candidates passed Maths and Science
Giving an update on May/June examinations, Motshekga reported that a significant number of May/June candidates have attained passes in gateway subjects, including Mathematics and Physical Sciences, with a total of 11 557 candidates who attained a pass in Mathematics and 8 258 attained a pass in Physical Sciences.
The department released the 2021 May/June examination results last week.
The Minister said the examinations were successfully administered, despite the enormous challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Both candidates with COVID-19 symptoms and those who tested positive, were allowed to write the examination in special isolation venues. The prevalence of examination irregularities of a serious nature, such as imposters, crib notes, and possession of cell phones during the writing, have declined compared to previous years," the Minister said.
She noted that the results of the May/June examination cannot be reported the same as the end-of-the-year National Senior Certificate examinations, given that candidates for the May/June exams, register to write one or more subjects.
The results of the candidates who wrote these exams are available at district offices or at the centres where the examination was written.
Senior Certificate candidates who sat for this examination can obtain their results from the DBE website at www.education.gov.za.