Parents in the North West have expressed concern about the effects fears around contracting the coronavirus are having on their school-going children.
They say many of the children have failed while others have dropped out of school completely, particularly in farming communities like Ganyesa and Setlagole villages.
However, the National Association of School Governing Bodies says schools are the safest place to prevent the spread of the virus and it has encouraged the learners to go back to school.
The North West saw its 2020 matric results decline by around 10 percentage points to just over 76%. This did not go down well with most parents. They blamed the drop on the coronavirus pandemic.
Parents say their children have been affected psychologically and academically.
20-year-old Tsholofelo Mogwasi, who dropped out in 2020, says shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, her drive to continue with her studies to become a veterinarian died.
“Since the outbreak, my spirit was dampened. I became depressed. I was under a lot of pressure. I found it difficult to study. We had a lot of homework to do and I would end up finishing them up at 12 midnight. That time, I am tired, I want to just sleep. Even my mother was against my attending school saying I will be infected. I really think I will not cope even when I go back to school, but I will try to go back to school next year.”
Parents are calling on education stakeholders to intervene and find ways to motivate learners, such as Mogwasi, to return to school.
“My child has been infected, but I don’t think she got it from school. My only question is that if I allow her to go back to school will she concentrate. We want them to go to school, not to miss out on education, but again, we are scared they might get infected. Actually, we are just in the middle as parents,” says one parent.
“As a parent, I say our children must hold on. They must know that any disease is deadly. It‘s not only coronavirus. All they have to do is to protect themselves and continue going to school,” says another parent, adding that “not at any other place, except the school.
“Because the school is where we are going to ensure that their health is taken care of. Government will buy sanitizers for them. The Department of Basic Education will ensure that there is running water at the school, they wash their hand regularly and they will ensure that there are masks at the school.”
The North West education authorities have declined to comment, saying it will be difficult to comment without having a specific case related to the matter.
Concerns over matric dropout numbers: