The Department of Education’s Online Education programme seems to be a complete failure for some learners in rural areas of the Eastern Cape. High school learners from Bafazi village, in Elliotdale, are now calling on the government to allow them to return to class amid the nationwide lockdown.

They say poor signal makes it difficult to access radio stations, which they have been encouraged to make use of as part of government’s learning programmes.

A number of learners from this village, like 18-year-old matric pupil Mzamo Noboba, feel like their future is no longer bright.

In the video below, learners say online learning in rural areas is proving near-impossible:

Noboba lives with his grandmother in dilapidated mud structures.

He thinks the government’s online learning programme is not good for rural learners as access to Internet is a Greek word to them.

“As students from these villages, we are struggling to keep on track with the curriculum. We don’t all have DSTV and radio stations. We can’t access online studies because not all of us have access to internet. Most of us don’t have cellphones and this is a systematic failure by government. Predominantly here in the rural areas, we don’t have enough material. How do you expect that child to pass? Our parents cannot afford to build proper houses and how do you expect that person to pay for a cellphone? How is that child going to study online? Government is telling us to use community radio stations, but their signal is bad and we can only access Umhlobo Wenene, which can only give us one subject per week.”

In the video below, is an interview on SMART Learning Suite Online:

Some students from institutions of higher learning face a similar predicament.

“I use my previous slides. I do have a laptop, but we don’t have electricity at home. Our solar power is very weak, so I have to ask neighbour in order to be able to charge it. But again, we don’t have access to internet and that makes it difficult for me to stay updated on schoolwork.”

In the video below, is an interview on the importance of access to the internet for learners during the lockdown:

The Education Department acknowledges the plight of the learners and says is trying different avenues to assist.

Spokesperson Loyiso Pulumane has urged parents and traditional leaders to support the learners.

“This is a state of disaster as announced by the President and we are compelled to act accordingly. That is why we have been accelerating additional support outside the classroom. Hence we ensure all our radio stations throughout the province provide lessons on a daily basis. From the new week going forward, we will have lessons on Tru FM and Umhlobo Wenene FM. We are making a plan to make deliveries for learning material to all high school and shops. We are calling on parents and traditional leaders to support learners during this time.”

The department has also promised to deliver learning material to high schools in rural areas to ensure they don’t miss out.

In the video below, the Higher Education department puts measures in place for learning during COVID-19 lockdown: