Covid-19 continues to exacerbate existing inequalities, hits high-school maths and science marks

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'Covid-19 has exposed a challenging and unequal education system... and this exacerbated existing stark inequalities in South Africa.'
'Covid-19 has exposed a challenging and unequal education system... and this exacerbated existing stark inequalities in South Africa.'
  • The World Bank estimates that the closure of schools affected 1,6 billion scholars
  • South Africa's internet penetration rate is only 64%, leaving more than 20 million citizens unable to access the internet for their schooling

Across the country, classrooms are filling up again, as the third wave of the pandemic starts to ebb. However, the lingering impact on learning is of concern.

Data released by the Telkom Foundation shows the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on school learners in the critical areas of mathematics and science. 

The data reveals that the lack of face-to-face learning under lockdown has seen high-school learners regressing.

ALSO READ | Covid-19 | Schools battle to stay open in hard hit Eastern Cape town as teachers join fight against pandemic

'A challenging and unequal education system'

Sarah Mthintso, who is the CEO of the Telkom Foundation says: "Regrettably, we have seen the negative impact of the pandemic – and the unavoidable closure of schools – has had on learning."

South Africa was among those countries forced to impose strict lockdown conditions, which halted classroom learning, and with lockdown restrictions, the majority of South African learners did not have immediate access to online learning opportunities.

The transition from face-to-face to online learning proved challenging for both teachers and schoolgoers.

"Covid-19 has exposed a challenging and unequal education system," says Mthintso, "and this exacerbated existing stark inequalities in South Africa."

ALSO SEE | How to prepare your child for a Covid-19 test

'We dare not fail them'

The Telkom Foundations' initial diagnostic assessments conducted with learners in Grade 9, found that several learners had deficiencies in especially Math and Science, many of which were carried from the intermediate phase at primary school, impacting their ability to excel in these subjects. 

As a teacher from MH Baloyi Secondary School stated, "we didn't realise how much we didn’t know about remote learning until you had to do it for the first time."

Now more than ever, the introduction of technology to mitigate the risk of reduced learning, the preparation and support of teachers as well as benefits of classroom learning cannot be underestimated.

"We must collaborate with all stakeholders to tackle the long-term effects of learning losses in our country," says Mthintso. "The youth of today will need to be able to draw on the best of classroom and online learning to meet the needs of the future… We dare not fail them, even in these difficult times."

Submitted to Parent24 by the Telkom foundation.


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