JOBURG – Learners shared some of their concerns about returning to school during a webinar with Media Monitoring Africa.
How will the Department of Education recover lost time? Will learners have to repeat the school year? Will universities and other tertiary institutions lower their admission point scores?
These were among the questions brought to the table by learners who participated in a webinar recently as part of Media Monitoring Africa’s (MMA) web series titled Getting to Grips.
MMA hopes to provide a platform that can educate young minds about the coronavirus and its impact on their daily lives.This discussion was brought about to ease the curious young minds of the some of the country’s learners who are feeling uneasy with regards to the lack of clarity around their current schooling year.
With over 40 days already lost in the school year, the learners admitted to feeling anxious. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced that learners in Grade 7 and 12 learners would return to school on 1 June, with safety measures in place.
According to a learner named Trevor, he is concerned about the phased approach directed at grades 7 and 12 learners. “Although it was said that learners will not be seated together in the classrooms, what will happen when all the other grades phase-in? We will be squashed in class and right back to where we started,” he said.
On the receiving end was deputy director of social mobilisation and support for the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Likho Bottoman.”We are anticipating that by the time other grades come back to school, the rate and density of the virus will have decreased in our country,” he said.
Bottoman added that the answer to the question of social distancing in classrooms is only available in South Africa. “Other countries have resumed classes as normal while heavily investing in personal protective equipment (PPE). We cannot go against our own regulations.”
Another learner, Matshidiso, shared the concerns of parents who are feeling reluctant to send their children back to school. According to MMA’s Phakamile Khumalo, it was noted in a recent investigative report that younger children are at less risk of contracting and spreading the novel virus.
“It is not saying that they cannot get infected but this investigation allows us the space to play around with ideas of how we can ensure that our young people, in line with the full measures and safety precautions taken into consideration, are empowered to still go to school and get an education.”
Bottoman concluded, “It is also important that we, as the department, do to not push the parents but rather journey with them at their own pace. Once they are able to get a better understanding, they will be able to work with us.”