Catch-up plans discussed

2020-04-01 06:00
Free State MEC for Education Tate Makgoe. Photo: Teboho Setena

Free State MEC for Education Tate Makgoe. Photo: Teboho Setena

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The Free State MEC for Education, Tate Makgoe, announced the department’s recovery measures to compensate for lost school time due to the Coronavirus pandemic (Covide-19). He was speaking on Wednesday, 18 March, on the side-line of government’s plans to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 which saw the implementation of the 21-days lockdown.

Makgoe said among catch-up plans would include the shortening of the June holidays. The minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, also reiterated shortening the winter schools’ holiday between June and July, to compensate for the early closure of schools due to Covid-19.

The plan is to shorten the winter school holidays by a week. Motshekga pointed that schools will be encouraged to extend tuition hours, once schools reopen starting immediately with the second term.

Makgoe said government would consider providing digital home schooling, broadcast lessons, further indicating the importance of life orientation as a subject in curbing Covid-19 widespread.

“Life orientation is a necessity, in particular as it educates every child on hygiene and many other lessons to ensure a healthy body and sound social behaviour.”

According to the department of basic education’s original programme, schools were to reopen for the second term on 14 April having closed on 18 March. Some schools closed earlier upon learners finished writing their first term exams.

According to the department plan, schools were initially meant to resume on 14 April. However, this is also within the 21-days shutdown period.

Arising from the 21-days shutdown, countrywide schools face a daunting task to implement recovery plans to complete the syllabus for the 2020-year.

Motshekga indicated no decision has been taken as to when schools will re-open after the end of the lockdown on 16 April.

Howards Ndaba, spokesperson for the provincial department, said an announcement on when schools will reopen for the second term is likely on or after 16 April. This will follow after Motshekga had consulted with all the MEC’s of the nine provinces via a teleconference.

Outlining interventions plans, Motshekga announced that to bridge the digital gap, her department is going to provide broadcast and virtual classrooms. According to her, these platforms will be made possible with the help of agencies Usasa, DStv and the SABC, which has already availed a dedicated education channel and provided two studios for virtual live teaching.

She said emergency measures to curb the Covid-19 spread, has affected all schools – public ordinary schools, independent schools, private and early childhood development centres.

With schools identified as one of the biggest threats in terms of viral transmission, Motshekga encourages teachers to get tested for the Coronavirus.

“Schools in particular, have been identified as one of the biggest threats in terms of the transmission,” she said.

Learners are being encouraged to do schoolwork at home, with teachers being asked to provide extra work and to hand over text schoolbooks which are usually kept at schools. To make up for lost time, school days may be made longer once children return, and if the school shutdown is extended, the school year may also be extended.

Motshekga said that each province, district, circuit and school must have a practical and comprehensive catch-up plan.

In line with the restrictions made by the president, all mass school events exceeding 100 people scheduled for April have been postponed or cancelled with immediate effect.

The minister said she wrote to all provinces to inform them that the decree by the president is binding for all.

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