Some Limpopo learners are confident that government’s Education Recovery Plan will help them to catch-up on lost time, even though they have had minimal remote education over the past two months.
The plan includes the phased in return of learners to school, starting with grades 12 and 7 learners on Monday.
It also incorporates the trimming of the curriculum as well as redesigning of the school calendar to reduce school holiday days.
Lufuno Mulaudzi and Matimu Chavalala of Duvula-Mahuntsi High School in Rotterdam village outside Giyani have had varying experiences of remote education during the national lockdown. Mulaudzi had access to broadcast education, while Chavalala had no remote education.
However, both believe they will recover their lost time and qualify to study at institutions of higher education of their choice in 2021.
“This lockdown affected us a lot because we didn’t get enough information, as the information that we would have had while going to school, while sitting together, while doing group work, while discussing. There’s nothing much than to sit at home, I wasn’t that busy when it comes to school stuff. I didn’t participate in any online learning, data issues and networks, but I think I will recover.”
Some Grade 12 learners in the Vaal area are also happy that they have been given an opportunity to resume their studies. They say they are eager to complete their matric certificate.
“I’m happy because I was staying at home for a long time and I was waiting for this time so that I can finish my matric. I’m really scared, but maybe it won’t affect me and other learners. Excited at the same time. What if I’m getting affected. I’m excited that I’m going to finish the journey that I started in January. I was studying and doing lots of revision preparing for this day.”
Analyst suggests employing additional educators
Meanwhile, independent education analyst Hendrick Makaneta believes the experiences of Mulaudzi and Chavalala are a reflection of the daily lives of many learners in the country. He says the only hope for the class of 2020 is for government to invest in employing additional teachers.
“We have learners who are left behind because they don’t have access to online teaching and learning, a wide range of these learners don’t have access to a wide range of resources that can be utilised. I think that it can take a miracle for our learners to do much better than the previous year, the department has to find a way of hiring additional teachers during this catch-up programme and ensure that when the programme is rolled out, they are already in school.”
In the video below, Minister Motshekga says most schools are ready to receive Grade 7 and 12 learners:
Below is an infographic on government’s COVID-19 back-to-school plan:
Transport regulations affecting learning
Scholar transport drivers in Mankweng and Moletjie in Limpopo have resolved not to transport learners to schools. They say the loading limit placed on them will affect them negatively.
Taxis are allowed to carry up to 70% of their loading capacity as a measure to reinforce social distancing to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The drivers’ representative Lesetja Molapo says their efforts to negotiate with the circuit manager on the requirement were unsuccessful.
“We finalised that we are not going to transport learners to and from school. We held a meeting with the circuit manager, we did not reach any agreement, the rules that we should adhere to during this COVID-19 has a negative impact financially on our members.”
In the video below, Limpopo’s readiness for the phased return of learners:
The Midrand Learners’ Transport Association in Johannesburg is also not happy.
It has vowed not to transport learners to school until the provincial government talks to its members regarding their grievances.
Association spokesperson Brian Govender says they’ve heard government officials in the media saying the scholar transport associations must register their vehicles even though they’re already registered.
Govender says they feel government has neglected them in addition to not paying them for the past three months.
“At the moment we’re not getting paid and the risk is if we do start moving today we’re moving with 70% capacity. Most parents will be transporting the kids themselves, so we will basically be making a double trip and we don’t even have the capacity for fuel right now,” he says.