School holiday breaks vary throughout the world. Iran is one of the countries with the highest number of school holidays per year (125 days). In other words, Iranian schools work only two-thirds of a year.
The figure is 100 days in the UK, 90 in Germany and Canada, and 80 in Japan; Turkey with 120 days of public holidays also has long periods of school closure. The figure varies from 70 days to 125 days in other countries and the longest break in the school year is mostly during summer. In Iran the summer break is 90 days.
While the country has the highest number of school holidays in the world, in some provinces with extremely cold winters like Ardebil, East Azarbaijan, and West Azarbaijan, freezing weather usually closes schools for several days, salamatnews.com reported.
This year, the late autumn freezing conditions forced the Ardebil Education Department to close schools for six days. The temperature dropped to -20 in some cities in the province including Khalkhal, Sarein and Meshginshahr. The number of holidays may further increase in the winter.
The situation is the same for industrial cities during cold seasons, when wind speeds are low and smoke and fog stagnates forming haze and increasing the air pollution levels. In the past two months, Tehran’s primary schools closed for about seven days due to high levels of air pollution.
“The first academic calendar was developed in the country in 1928, by which schools were mandated to enroll students between September 5 and October 6, and the school year began on October 7,” according to Ahmad Abedini, deputy of the Education Supreme Council.
The academic calendar changed 13 times since then until 1995, when the first day of autumn (September 21) was determined as the first day of the school year.
All the 13 academic calendars “have had a common flaw making them ineffective to some extent,” he maintained.
The academic calendar should not be identical for all provinces. “While the number of hours of teaching must be the same, the month when the school year ends (in June) as well as the summer break can vary,” Abedini says.
“Winter breaks can be considered for provinces which have high number of irregular school closures during the cold season.”
All schools are also closed for 13 days during Norouz, the Iranian New Year, which usually occurs on March 21 (vernal equinox) or the previous/following day, and is celebrated on a grand scale nationwide.
When the academic calendar is planned, weather conditions in each specific part of the country should be considered as the sole factor in determining days on which classes will be temporarily suspended.
Iran is a vast country with different types of climate: wet and mild on the Caspian Sea coast, continental and arid in the plateau, cold in high mountains, desert and hot in the southern coast and the southeast.
“While the academic calendar could be planned separately for the different parts of the country, the official commencement of the school year in the Persian calendar month of Mehr, equivalent to the first day of autumn (September 21), should continue since it evokes nostalgia,” as it is in place for the past 20 years, Abedini added.
A scenario which has been recently developed by educational experts is to consider a winter break for students in provinces with freezing winters, or in metropolises like Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad which are marked by high levels of air pollution due to the atmospheric conditions. Summer holidays can be shorter for students studying in these cities; however the plan has not been approved yet.
By breaking-up holidays during the year, the problem of the high number of road accidents and fatalities in the last month of summer (June 21-September 21), when all families are in a rush to return home from vacation and the traffic density is high, will also be addressed.
The Education Supreme Council has 22 members and the president is the head of the council. Five ministers, deputy ministers, education experts and representatives from different organizations sit on the council.
Via: Finantial Tribune