With the lockdown extended by another 2 weeks, parents and teachers alike are concerned about the education of the children.
Even though the children can access curriculum work through different platforms, there are still those who do not have the means to do so.
Most of these platforms would require the use of data to access emails, YouTube videos, Facebook etc. which costs money. Data costs can become extremely expensive and with the current lockdown, most families are in a situation of no work, no pay. One must also consider the fact that not everyone has access to Wi-Fi.
During this time parents do their utmost best to ensure that their children stay on top of their schoolwork but some parents are still working and do not always have the time nor means to assist. A lot of concern has also been raised about the amount of screen time children are getting during this time.
Teachers are doing their utmost best by recording classes for the children and uploading these videos onto the different platforms that are being used. This is a challenge for the teachers too. Even though teachers can be seen as public speakers as they are in front of their class presenting during school hours, being in front of a camera is more daunting and a whole other ball game than teaching in front of a Gr 1 class for some. The Bulletin has spoken to some teachers facing this problem but they all said one thing: “We do it for the kids!”
The Bulletin has spoken to teachers from both the private and public sectors’ schools. A source in the private sector told The Bulletin: “We are lucky to have the resources to continue our classes. The challenge is that we shall have to wait for the school to reopen to do a skills gap analysis. It is difficult to that over a computer screen.”
With regards to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the proposals to be tabled before the cabinet, it is difficult to say whether combining the 2020/2021 school years would work.
“So, there are proposals that we will give to Cabinet because the president had said that each sector had to say what safe measures we can put in place to ensure that we phase out the lockdown in a safe manner,” the minister said. She also said: “The worst-case scenario, I suspect, would be the phasing-in period lasts until June. We hope that it will start in mid-April so that we can have testing taking place among pupils. Maybe we can phase in the Grade 12s and Grade 7s first and then work out how to phase in other grades gradually up to June,” regarding returning to school after the lockdown.
The minister also said that the department is looking at combining the 2020/2021 school years to cover areas that would have been neglected.
Another source told The Bulletin: “We do not think combining the school years would be deconstructive as the workload for younger children would be too much. To combine two years into one would be work and information overload not only for the teachers but the children as well. We are also concerned about our children from less fortunate families. We know the parents do the best they can but it will stay a concern.”
Another suggestion was to scrap the June and September holiday and moving the exams that have to take place in November to December.
A lot of people have agreed that scrapping the June and September holidays would be the best decision. By scrapping the holidays, teachers would have time to do skills gap analysis properly and would be able to pinpoint the trouble areas to focus on.
“The foundation phase is a big concern as the amount of repetition of work is extremely important. Children in the foundation phase need more attention because they are learning everything from scrap; writing, reading etc. If the foundation phase is not properly concreted, it could lead to struggles later on,” one source said.
One of the biggest challenges teachers are facing at this point in time is the non-existence of a classroom. “The fact that we do not see the children every day in a classroom is a big challenge but we do know that every teacher out there is doing everything they can to ensure that the children are still receiving the best education and the education they deserve,” said one source.
It is clear that the Department of Basic Education has a big challenge ahead of them and it seems that the Department is doing everything they can to assist children and teachers during this time. It is worrying that not once there was spoken about LSEN schools.
Will the phasing back to school succeed if it is implemented and would the testing of COVID-19 at schools be allowed? One can only wait and see…