Matric and Cambridge streams: For combined schools, split vacations a nightmare

One track follows June-July, the other now has to be off July-August.

Samia Saleem May 13, 2011


The government may have decided a July-August summer vacation for Matric schools and left it up to Cambridge schools to keep their June-July calendar, but what will happen to institutions that offer both systems?

“I don’t think it is going to work out and we are thinking of keeping the same June-July break even for our Matric system,” said Benedict Vaz, who is both the headmaster of the O’ Levels section and is in charge of the lower secondary section in the afternoon shift of the Matric system at St Patrick’s High School.

A split vacation will be inconvenient for parents who have children in both streams. “For our schoolchildren it will mean that our teachers and the parents will get no break at all,” he said.

Naseema Kapadia, the headmistress of the Cambridge section at St Joesph’s Convent School, which also offers the Matric stream, agrees. “It’s not just the teachers, even our school’s lower staff is the same,” she said.

One teacher said that there was no point in changing the schedule only to accommodate Ramadan as students were used to attending school during the month. “After all, fasting requires you to continue your daily chores instead of relaxing,” she pointed.

Principals of both schools told The Express Tribune that parents have already complained about the Sindh government’s decision as they had planned their vacations and booked tickets.

Kapadia explained that the inconvenience did not just apply to the well-off students, as is the common perception, but also to those who do not hail from Karachi and were planning to visit relatives or their hometowns in other districts or cities of the country.

Furthermore, schools are not completely clear if the new schedule applies to only the O’ and A’ levels (grades VIII to XIII) of the Cambridge system or to the lower classes as well who are in the same stream.

At River Oaks Academy, that has the Cambridge system from junior to senior classes, principal Aasim Karim said that he was now confused about what to do for junior Cambridge classes I to VIII. Their final exams are usually held in May and end in June.

Even if they plan to start their term in June to be able to close in July-August, they can’t as they need time to prepare for the term, and let parents buy books. To complicate matters, the Cambridge textbooks aren’t published until August when the new term is supposed to start.

Matric stream schools have no objection to following the new July-August vacations, explained the Sindh chairman for the Private Schools Management Association, Sharaf uz Zaman.

But there is confusion because the government’s steering committee had no private sector representatives even though they control most of the schools in the province.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2011.


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