School during and after lockdown – What is happening in South Africa

The COVID-19 lockdown means that schools are not allowed to operate as per usual.

However, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has made it clear the government does not want to postpone the school year any more than necessary.

The department has also taken measures to help students continue educating themselves during the lockdown.

These measures are outlined below.

Learner support programmes

The Department of Basic Education has prepared various support resources on its website which comprise subject content primarily for Grade 12 learners.

It has also partnered with various organisations to provider learners with options to continue their education.

These include:

  • Lessons on SABC TV and radio.
  • Lessons on DStv Channel 180.
  • Lessons on Openview Channel 122.
  • Broadcast of lessons on community radio stations around the country.
  • Electronic readers available via all platforms in partnership with Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C.
  • 2Enable app with more than 2,000 electronic readers in indigenous languages.
  • Promotion of the African Storybook series through the 2Enable App.
  • Free access to Siyavula Maths and Science support in partnership with MTN.
  • Free access to the Vodacom Virtual Classroom.

The National Reading Coalition has also identified additional resources for learners, while Via Afrika – a publisher of educational materials – is offering free digital study guides for Grades 10, 11 and 12.

To access these study guides, learners must send their grade and required subject to 060 970 3793 on WhatsApp.

Examples of radio learning schedules for Umhlobo Wenene FM and TruFM during the lockdown are shown below.

Umhlobo Wenene schedule

Tru FM Education schedule

Reopening schools

An unofficial document seen by the City Press and dated 11 April claims that the Department of Education is considering two scenarios for the management of the 2020 academic calendar.

One of these scenarios sees schools only reopening on 7 July, the report stated.

A newer document obtained by TimesLive reportedly states that Matric and Grade 7 students could return to school on 6 May if the lockdown is lifted at the end of April.

Possibilities that are allegedly being considered as part of the Department of Basic Education’s plan for the academic year include earlier daily starting times, weekend and evening classes, cancelling the June and September holidays, moving the November and December exams, and limiting the curriculum of certain subjects to essential materials only.

Motshekga is set to present the Department of Education’s final proposals to a special cabinet meeting this week.

Poor schools face a struggle

MyBroadband also spoke with the headmaster of a former model-C school about what their experience had been during the lockdown.

The headmaster said their school was using digital platforms and resources to minimise the effect of the shutdown on its learners.

However, most schools in South Africa do not have this luxury.

While these learners do have access to resources like a radio or TV, they are clearly at a disadvantage when compared to learners who can use tablets and laptops, as well as high-quality Internet connections, to their advantage.

Additionally, many of these learners rely on government’s school nutrition programme to remain fed.

Motshekga said the Department of Basic Education is working alongside the Department of Social Development to ensure that families within areas covered by the Department of Social Development receive food parcels.

Now read: Coronavirus infections and deaths – South Africa vs Global numbers

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School during and after lockdown – What is happening in South Africa