Department Releases Updated 2021 School Calendar

The Department of Basic Education has released the updated academic calendar for schools in South Africa for 2021, including new term dates.


The Department of Basic Education released the Amended School Calendar for the 2021 academic year. This calendar was published after the return of public schools was delayed by three weeks until 15 February, as a result of the impact of the second wave of Covid-19 in South Africa.

The new term dates are as follows:

  • 15 February – 23 April (Term 1)
  • 3 May – 9 July (Term 2)
  • 26 July – 1 October (Term 3)
  • 11 October – 15 December (Term 4)

This updated calendar has a total of 192 school days planned and sees the school year ending on 15 December 2021.


The recent delay in the calendar has not been disruptive as those seen in the 2020 academic year, but schools are still expected to implement programmes to make up for lost teaching time.

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education said that it welcomed the idea to implement extra classes to ensure that all learners are prepared well enough for examinations.

The committee has called on the department to ensure that schools have replacement teaching staff so that teaching and learning may continue in the case of teachers being unavailable due to increased risk caused by co-morbidities.

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga is urging parents to send their children to school so that they don’t become disengaged and drop out permanently.


She stresses that the consequences of not having children attend school regularly are dire.

“We seem to be desperately trying to save the curriculum. We also want to -we’re desperately trying to save them from themselves.

The vulnerable and the poor are at highest risk if they are kept out of school for too long.” said Motshekga.

In a briefing to parliament, the Department of Education’s Director-general Mathanzima Mweli said that younger students who aren’t being taught or learning for extended periods of time are at risk of forgetting about fundamental skills and knowledge learnt at schools.

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“This creates a challenge of ‘accumulated gaps’ as they continue into further grades,” Mweli said.

Mweli said that the department was concerned about the matrics of 2021 who lost a lot of teaching time as Grade 11 learners in 2020.


“We have narrowed the curriculum as part of a process known as ‘trimming’ which means that these students were not exposed to the full curriculum. However, in matric, they will be examined on the full contents of Grades 10, 11 and 12,” he said.

Mweli expressed that the education system would have quite a difficult time recovering from the learning losses.


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