One of the expected announcements from President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday is the reopening of schools. However, physical distancing distancing remains a main concern following Basic Education
Department’s proposal titled: “2020 recovery plan for post Covid-19 lockdown”, is proposing that schools reopen on a phased basis, with matrics and Grade 7s starting on May 6 if the lockdown is lifted on April 30.
Education expert Professor Jonathan Jansen says logistics and curriculum should not be the only focus.
“What closed down the schools now was not an extended teachers strike. It was a pandemic and therefore, when teachers, students and workers come back to school they will be tired and they will be traumatised. They will need support, not simply be regarded as what I call cognitive machines that can be switched on and off. We should prepare for a very different kind of support strategy that is both academic as well as social, emotional and psychological.”
Jansen believes that there might not be enough time to make up for the lost time. He says the department should consider passing all learners between grade 1 and 11.
“And there, the department I hope will simply pass all the student from Grade 1 to 11 and make up the time at a leisurely pace in 2021, one way in which we can do that is to start the school year earlier, but don’t try to cram in everything now as if we won’t sit with an enormous amount of problems of re-adaptation on the part of the teachers and children.”
On matriculants, Jansen says depending on when the schools reopen, the matric exam can be held on a reduced curriculum.
“The implication is that the examiners will have to be called back to reset their exams which are already prepared for October and November and do that on the basis of a reduced curriculum for 2020. Not a big deal as far as the universities are concerned because most students are already provisionally accepted and the only task is to find ways in which universities can accommodate in their curriculum for the degree accommodate their curriculum start earlier to a bridging curriculum of sorts for the different qualifications.”
Meanwhile, the department has postponed the May/June rewrite matric exams. In a statement, the department said that the exam which was to start on May 4 will now be merged with the November examination.
Impact of COVID-19 on education:
The COVID-19 lockdown has disrupted school schedules around the country. There are concerns that the re-opening of schools cannot happen in isolation.
In other words there will have to be enough transport for teachers and scholars who need it. Parents will need to work to pay fees and there will need to be consistent testing of learners to make sure schools don’t become infection sites.
Basic Education Department Spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga speaks on these issues on the video below:
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to update the nation on COVID-19 lockdown on the Day 28 of the mandatory lockdown.