Socio-economic researcher at Stellenbosch University and analyst at the Department of Basic Education, Professor Martin Gustafsson says COVID-19 has drastically affected the teaching and learning process for 2020, however, its full impact may only be evident in 10 years from now.

He says more than half the academic year and at least 80% of learning time was lost in South Africa last year.

Gustafsson says the biggest impact will be on learners who were in the foundation phase of schooling at the start of the pandemic, where basic reading, writing and mathematical skills are learnt.

“ They lost about 80% of a year’s worth of learning the learning losses are worse than what is suggested by the loss in contact time,” says Gustafsson.

Gustafsson says it may be difficult for children to catch up at a later stage.

“On education, the impact is catastrophic because these learning losses especially at the younger ages are not only likely to remain with individuals for the rest of their lives. The disruptions have been so long now and children need to learn specifically at that specific age because of brain development. That’s why I’m saying it’s difficult for them to catch up later,” adds Gustafsson.

October holidays

Over the weekend, Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga announced that the October school holidays will go ahead as planned.

The Department earlier proposed that the holiday starting on October 1 be cancelled because of the schooling days lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motshekga said after consultation with all role players, it was decided that the school calendar must remain as it is.

VIDEO: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga briefs the media on COVID-19 impact on schooling: