Compensation Data Facts - What's What in Compensation


Labor Day, considered the "unofficial end of summer," signals the return of the school year in the United States and Canada. When the public education system started in the 1800s, the school calendar varied depending on the needs of the community. In cities, schools were open practically year-round and students attended classes up to 240 days a year. On the other hand, rural schools were open for about five months over two sessions, in the winter and summer. These children didn't attend school in fall and spring so they could help harvest the crops and help with planting.

By the late 1800s, concerns over the ill effect of too much schooling on the health of both students and teachers paved the way to a shorter school year. By the early 1900s, both the rural and urban school districts had aligned and adopted a 180-day academic year that started after Labor Day and ended in June. As the United States became less of an agricultural society, more states began embracing an earlier start to the academic year. Now, the warmer regions of North America begin school in August while half of European countries start on the first of September. In the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland), school starts in mid- to end August.

Due to differences in weather and climate, countries in the southern hemisphere typically start school between mid January to early February. The first day of school in Argentina is on the last Monday of February or the first Monday of March, depending on the year. In Australia, most schools begin on the first Monday after Australia Day, January 26. The first day of school in India falls in mid-June, while the school year in Thailand generally starts in early May.

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