There are currently no plans to align the polytechnic academic calendar with that of primary and secondary schools, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing told Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 5).
"The polytechnic calendar also takes into consideration when students enrol into their courses," he said. "There are, however, overlaps between the term breaks of our schools and polytechnics."
Mr Chan was responding to a question by Member of Parliament Wan Rizal (PAP-Jalan Besar), who asked whether the ministry had plans to review the semester breaks for polytechnics and align them with primary and secondary schools.
Unlike the academic calendars of primary and secondary schools that broadly follow a calendar year, polytechnics usually start their academic year in April and end it in March the next year.
Polytechnics have long semester vacations in the months of September and October, as well as March and April, unlike the June and December school holidays for primary and secondary schools. However, polytechnics also have short term breaks in June and December.
But Dr Wan Rizal, an academic staff member at Republic Polytechnic, noted how students in continuing education and training (CET) programmes spend the month of December going for lessons.
CET programmes, some of which are offered in polytechnics, usually involve adult learners studying part-time for a higher diploma or professional certificate.
"This means that for us to encourage them to do a part-time diploma and have a work-life balance, this means sacrificing their December holidays and in the spirit of celebrating families and supporting (them), I think this is something that we are missing," Dr Wan Rizal said.
"Now the staff, of course, have to do the markings in December, which means they are usually affected. Of if they are teaching the CET students, like I do, we do not get the December holidays as a whole."
Polytechnic full-time diploma students also take mid-semester tests in the first few weeks of December, although they then have a two-week break until the new year.