The Ministry of Education has announced that the new academic school year (2015-2016) will begin from July 20 to August 28 and therefore all schools should abide by the new dates.
A draft document from the ministry, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, said orientation begins August 31 to September 4.
The ministry wants all private, boarding, faith-based, and public schools to submit their instructional academic calendar and information sheets to the office of their respective District Education Officers (DEO) for approval by the County Education Officers.
The document quoted the new education law as follows: “The Education Law calls for a minimum of 200 instructional days. Therefore, all schools shall operate within the period of September 7, 2015 through July 12, 2016.”
The law further states that at age six, a student should be at least in the first grade and at age 17, a student should have completed 12th Grade.
The new law forbids over-age students from attending classes with students who have met the age-grade requirement.
The MOE is warning school administrators to abide by the academic calendar to ensure the smooth management of school activities across the country.
The first semester will run from September 7 to February 12, 2016, while the first marking period is from September 7 to October 9, 2015, including the observation of First Day of School, National Literacy Day and National Teachers Week, respectively.
The second marking period, according to the new law, will run from October 26 to December 11 and include several holidays, including United Nations Day to be observed with school-based programs; Thanksgiving Day, observed on the first Thursday in November; and William V.S. Tubman’s Birthday, a national holiday to be observed on Monday, November 30.
The third marking period is from December 14, 2015 to February 12, 2016. That instructional period will take into account the Christmas Vacation break with classes resuming on January 4, 2016. This will include the observance of Armed Forces Day (Feb. 11), which is a national holiday. February 12 marks the end of the first semester.
The fourth marking period to the end of the second semester will begin from February 15 to the dates of graduation in June 2016, pending the release of results of the exams to be administered by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
The MOE has cancelled entrance examinations for first graders so that placement tests would not hinder a child’s admission to grade one.
“This policy holds for all schools, be they private or public,” the MOE said.
All 11th graders will not be allowed to enroll in a new school for the purpose of continuity. Secondary students will also remain at the same school until completion.
In keeping with these measures, MOE has said a school for basic and secondary education must consist of not less than six 45 minute instructional periods excluding lunch, devotion and planning time.
Mondays through Fridays are regular school days. School administrators will be penalized, including the imposition of fines to be paid into government revenue, for students being out of school before the prescribed dismissal time.”
In keeping with the new academic calendar, school administrators are advised to periodically engage the parents, guardians and community members, on students’ academic and moral performance. The discussion is to be held with parents at the end of each marking period.
Fees for Public Schools
Basic education from grades 1-9 is tuition-free, while secondary school students — grades 10th to 12th — are required to pay registration fees of at least LD600 for tuition, plus LD150 and LD250 paid as activity and maintenance fees, thus bringing the total minimum fees to LD1000 per semester.
Cancellation of Worship Service
According to the new calendar, MOE authorities said the county education officers (CEOs) should ensure that public school principals do not encourage the use of school facilities for religious services.
“Absolutely, no church or mosque should operate in a public school building,” the new regulations stipulates.
School Health and Safety
In a related development, the new calendar compels all school administrations to ensure that the school protocols contain health and safety practices to ensure that students and teachers remain safe and healthy.
The health measures include regular temperature taking and hand washing requirements for both the students and instructional staff.
“Teachers and students must wash their hands upon arrival at the school before and after meals and after the use of the toilet. Proper hand washing must be done regularly and that gender-friendly toilets [must] exist at every school.”