Equal Education together with several civil and legal organisations have added their voices to calls to end rotational learning at schools.
The lobby group joined by the Learning Trust, Legal Resources Centre, NASCEE and other academics have written to the Ministers of Basic Education, Health, and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to request that learners get back to school full-time.
The letter is raising concerns regarding the implementation of rotational learning and how last year saw learners miss a lot of school hours as a result of this.
Equal Education Co-Head of Research, Hopolang Selebalo, says science has changed but the rules have not.
“We are not saying that when there are peeks in the virus or infection or when other waves emerge that learners should go to school but the government must make sure that there’s a plan that accommodates the changes we see and the evolving virus. One more thing is that there’s a risk-adjusted strategy that the department has be touting since about 2020, which is said to be a contact-specific response to the different waves, so we also have to be adaptable, but we are not seeing that from government.”
According to the Department of Basic Education, learners will continue with rotational learning for the month of January. Minister Angie Motshekga last week said her department is in talks with the Health Department to reduce the social distancing parameter.
Scrap rotational timetables
Last week, the Democratic Alliance put out a strong call to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to scrap rotational timetables this year and do away with the 1-meter social distance rule. DA Basic Education shadow minister Baxolile Nodada explains:
Campaign against overcrowding schools
Equal Education has launched a campaign against overcrowding in Gauteng schools.
The campaign titled “#NoSpaceForUs” is based on research that the organisation conducted between September 2019 and June 2020 at nine schools in Etwatwa, Ekurhuleni.
Equal Education’s researcher Katherine Sutherland says it’s evident that overcrowding is a problem as more than 70% of classes at the schools that they had surveyed had more than 40 learners.
“EE’s Gauteng learner members (Equalisers) have long spoken of the significant challenge that overcrowding in schools has on their ability to learn and on the ability of teachers to teach. 74% of classes (557 of 751) that we inspected had over 40 learners.”
“Seven out of the nine schools had at least 15% more learners than the building was designed to hold. 66% of the classroom buildings that we measured were too small for the number of learners that they held. 82% of the classrooms buildings we inspected had too little furniture for the number of learners inside them. 65% of the teachers we interviewed were overworked,” says Sutherland.
Impact of COVID-19 on schools under the spotlight: