File picture: Denis Farrell/AP
File picture: Denis Farrell/AP

’School kids are doing little learning at home’: Report

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Jul 28, 2020

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Durban - PUPILS stuck at home while schools are closed are playing video games and watching television rather than learning, research by Statistics SA has shown

A research report, titled "Social impact of Covid-19 (Wave 3): Mobility, Migration, and Education in South Africa," was released by the organisation yesterday.

The report was based on information from 1323 respondents from various demographic groups across the country. The research was conducted between June 17 and July 4.

In one of its many findings, the report said: “More than two thirds (68.5%) of respondents strongly agreed that children spent more time watching television during the lockdown than usual. Close to 60% of respondents strongly agreed, and close to 19% agreed somewhat that children spent more time on the internet during the lockdown than usual.

"Furthermore, half of the respondents strongly agreed that children spent more time playing video games during the lockdown than usual.”

The report added that pupils in 63.6% of households had difficulty in keeping up with the amount of schoolwork given during the lockdown period, and that 68.4% were struggling to adapt to the new mode of learning.

A lack of use of material provided by the Department of Basic Education was highlighted. “Respondents’ responses indicated that they made little use of educational material made available by the Department of Basic Education on radio and television. Only approximately 5% of respondents said they used material on radio, while about 28% made use of the material on television. By comparison, 46% of respondents indicated that they used online material made available by the Department of Basic Education,” the report said.

Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association, Vee Gani, said the findings did not surprise him. “When children are at home, there is no compulsion to work,” he said.

The longer children were not studying, the harder it would be for them to start learning again, Gani said. What complicated matters was that parents were often unfamiliar with the content of the study material they had to teach their children.

Another factor was that many parents had to leave their children at home and go to work, Gani said. “These children don’t have a guide,” he said, adding that this problem was acute in rural areas. In addition, children at rural schools were negatively affected due to a lack of resources.

University of KwaZulu-Natal education expert Professor Labby Ramrathan was also not surprised by the findings, saying children did not have guidance and saw the lockdown period as a holiday. He said parents should create an environment where activities that children and parents engaged in were learning activities. These activities could be used by parents to teach their children to undertake a “critical inquiry” into what they were doing.

Ramrathan said officials needed to find a way around the disruptions and to normalise schooling during the pandemic, as Covid-19 was here to stay.

He said the disruption to learning could lead to children losing interest in school and dropping out. Poor children were most likely drop out of school due to a lack of access to materials to support them while they studied, he said.

KZN Education Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa disagreed that there would be an increase in the drop-out rate, saying pupils were on a short break from school. He added that education was not the sole responsibility of the department.

“Education is a societal matter and parents have a role to play in home schooling. Everybody must play their role,” Mthethwa said. Parents should ensure that children studied in environments where there were no temptations and distractions.

Daily News

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