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Education Ministry restores Christmas vacation in school calendar

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019. 8:44 am CST.

By Aaron Humes:   It’s Christmas in July – sort of.

The Ministry of Education, after meeting with the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) on Friday, has agreed to keep the standard three weeks’ Christmas time vacation, which would start this year on December 16.

 The trouble started a week or so ago when the Ministry unveiled its annual calendar for government-run and grant-aided schools – in practice, the vast majority of Belize’s pre-, primary and secondary educational institutions.

 Sharp eyes noticed that Christmas vacation would begin on December 23, just two days before Christmas itself, and run to January 3, 2020.

The Education Rules state that the Christmas vacation period “shall begin on the Monday before Christmas. Where Christmas falls on a day earlier than Wednesday, the vacation period shall begin on the Monday of the previous week. Classes shall resume on the first Monday of January. Where January 1 is a Sunday or Monday, classes shall resume on the second Monday in January.”

The always vocal teaching corps railed against the change, citing their expanded roles as caregivers and social workers in our changing society. With added pressure from the BNTU, the Ministry folded and agreed to keep the vacation, in the process according to Chief Elections Officer Dr. Carol Babb, sacrificing as many as 12 “contact days” or school days.

Since 1986, it has been agreed that the school year should run 38 weeks, down from 40. The rules would be revised to secure the desired 180 days, or 6 months, of contact. The school year typically starts in September and ends in June, but national and school holidays are taken into consideration as well.

 

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