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Point of View: Dept of Basic Education urged to relook the rotating system and lockdown restrictions at schools

Image | Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

Kaya 959 Reporter

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has expressed concern that many primary schools around South Africa still plan to have rotational timetables next year.

The impact of disrupted education since the COVID-19 outbreak has been devastating.

The arrangement means that children will be going to school every second day or every second week.

Also Read: Gauteng schools lose R2m to vandalism, burglaries and theft

According to statistics, learners between 75 per cent of South African learners are a full school year behind.

Nkosana Dolopi, SADTU Deputy General Secretary spoke to Phemelo Motene about what the current challenges that exist within schools and why urgent intervention is needed. He spoke about the impact this has on children and what needs to be done for children to catch up.

“Students are loosing out, we are almost approaching a third year where we are experiencing these difficulties, we must also accept that all this is happening because of a disaster a pandemic. The only unfortunate thing about this is that it appears that for almost 2 years now, that the department is not working hard enough to mitigate these challenges that seem to be complicating our lives and making it difficult.”

Also Read: Public schools in Gauteng report over 1000 COVID-19 positive cases

According to Unicef, Some 400,000 to 500,000 learners have reportedly also dropped out of school altogether over the the period of March 2020 – July 2021.

He also added that one of the key reason of the rotation system was an issue, is social distancing, and also highlighted that the slow pace of the Department of Education in addressing the basic issues children face was a problem.

“Social distancing, especially in our township and rural schools is an issue. The main question here is overcrowding, where learners would be 40 up to 60 in some instance in a class, so we thought that in the last 2 years now that we are facing this pandemic, they should atleast have moved quicker, to address the question of providing more classes.”

Also Read: Government urged to vaccinate teachers before schools ‘go back to normal

This is most likely for children living in informal urban and rural settings, with household poverty also playing a critical role. The total number of out of school children is now up to 750,000.

The education system can’t afford any further shocks, such as the recent unrest which resulted in more than 140 schools being vandalized in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

This comes on the back of the more than 2,000 schools that were looted and damaged during the hard COVID-19 lockdown last year.

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