Educators should assist learners cope with backlog: Metcalfe

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Education expert Professor Mary Metcalfe says educators will have to assist learners to cope with catching up on the backlog of the 2020 academic year, following delays to the calendar due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Department of Basic Education says despite having trimmed down the curriculum, learners will only manage to finish 70% of their work for the year.

The department says the remaining 30% will be incorporated into the 2021-2022 curriculums.

Public schools are currently on a four-week break and are set to resume on August 24 with matric learners having resumed classes on Monday after a one-week break.

Metcalfe says, “I don’t’ think people should be hung up on the 70%, we should be focused on when learners get back to school, how do teachers pick up the reigns, understand where learners are not only in terms of content and skills that they had been exposed to 4 – 5 months ago, but where are they emotionally, what support do they need and how does the class of 2020, through the backlog, catch up.”

Metcalfe also called on educators to prioritise health and safety protocols when learners return to school.

“Having to manage all these new routines – the social distancing, the masks, washing of surfaces and hands – all of these are new and complex routines which, in themselves, are taking time within the school day. Teachers at this stage need to prioritise their own safety and the safety of the children. They need to cope with the psycho-social challenges that learners are experiencing. Teachers will also be providing material for learners to take home and carry on learning. This is necessary but it is more stress,” says Metcalfe.

Prof. Mary Metcalfe speaks on 2020 academic year:

Reasons why parents can choose not to send a learner to school

Parents, caregivers, or designated family members of learners have the option of not sending learners to school during the national lockdown.

The reasons are according to the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 regarding the re-opening of schools and measures to address, prevent, and combat the spread of COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last month announced that public schools would take a four-week break as the coronavirus pandemic approached its peak.

A parent, caregiver or designated family member may choose not to send a learner to school for reasons that may include:

  1. The learner has an underlying medical condition 
  2. Anxiety or fear related to COVID-19
  3. Concern for family members that are over the age of 60
  4. Concern for family members with underlying conditions
  5. A preference for the learner receiving learning and teaching instruction through the online or virtual platforms
  6. A learner is self-isolated or quarantined due to being in contact with a person who tested positive or displaying symptoms of COVID-19
  7. The learner is isolated following testing positive for COVID-19
  8. Learners who have already applied for the full or partial exemption from compulsory school attendance for any of the reasons listed above

According to the Act, a parent, caregiver or a designated family member who chooses not to send a learner to school for any reasons contemplated in 1, 2, 3 and 4 must apply through the learners’ school according to Section 4 of the South African Schools Act to the Head of Department (HOD) or to an authorised person.

If a parent chooses to de-register their child from school for home education, it must comply with the legal requirements for home education.

Below is the President’s address in text: