Calls for learner rotation system to stay in place
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Cape Town - The Educators Union of SA (Eusa) has called for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to permanently adopt an adjusted learner rotation system and reject suggestions to return classrooms to full capacity.
Union spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane said the proposal was necessary, as the country was still under lockdown.
He said it showed that the danger of death and infections was still present, and with new cases of the Indian coronavirus strain being reported in South Africa, as well as it being winter, the department should not make any decisions yet.
"The department should, like the whole country, observe the behaviour of the virus this winter and allow international events to guide them," he said.
Mahlobogwane claimed that the department had not conducted any research.
"They have never interviewed teachers to investigate this matter."
He said the department was just doing what it did in 2020 by consulting university professors who had never even been to any classrooms in the lockdown, together with their sweetheart unions.
"The problems that they are highlighting now are long-standing challenges that learners and teachers have been facing even before the pandemic. The pandemic has not brought any major problems for Basic Education, it just exposed what they have been hiding or ignoring all these years."
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department was still in consultation with its stakeholders, and would issue an advisory when it was ready.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: "I suggest that Eusa looks very closely at the research into learning losses in the last year, as well as the health data internationally on schools."
Schäfer said there would be ongoing discussions about how schooling was implemented.
National Association of School Governing Bodies General Secretary Matakanya Matakanye said they supported the return of all learners, particularly foundation phase and primary.
Matakanye said this was because if learners rotated they learnt nothing and easily forgot what the teachers had taught them.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the DBE should be guided by scientific research on the impact of the pandemic.
"In principle it is necessary for all learners to receive education amid the challenges that we face as a country, but the DBE should use its discretion. It should be clear at this point that everybody is familiar with the new normal, but we cannot afford to take risks," said Makaneta.