Schools for all grades will open on February 15, with school management teams and teachers going back to school on January 25 and February 1, respectively.
Schools for all grades will open on February 15, with school management teams and teachers going back to school on January 25 and February 1, respectively.

2021 Matrics not happy with schools reopening delay

By MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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A two week delay in the reopening schools is met with anxious grade 11 and 12 pupils who believe it would make an already compact academic year more difficult.

The delay comes after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit South Africa. The country has recorded over 1.3 million infections and more than 39 000 deaths since March last year.

The surge led the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to delay schools for all grades by two weeks to ease the health system.

“Due to the impact of the coronavirus, the Council of Education in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet have taken the decision to delay the reopening of schools to February 15, in order to provide relief to the healthcare system,” said Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule.

Meanwhile, according to the department’s Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, the department anticipated a lot of catch-up teaching for grades 12 and 11 as the delay would have a huge impact on the teaching and learning backlog. He said this would be a mammoth task.

“It is going to be a burden on the system, not only to catch up with the Grade 12 content, but we still have to catch up again with Grade 11, which was lost last year. So it’s going to be extremely difficult for the system to be able to recover the learning losses.”

Class of 2021 Grade 11 and 12 pupils are anxious to get back to learning and fear history repeating itself with their predecessors having a bumpy 2020.

Sherav Singh, a grade 11 pupil from Glen Anil, said the delay would have a big impact on his school year, on top of the challenges of Covid-19 and the new grade.

“Grade 11 is an important year for me as this is the foundation of my future and having school delayed or postponed is quite serious as we will need all the time we can get. There is a lot of pressure being in grade 11, and your grade 11 results go towards university applications and the start of your career.”

Arnica Devar, a grade 12 pupil from Centurion, believes grade 11 and 12 pupils should have been allowed to return to school on January 27, before other grades.

“The two week delay makes me feel uneasy as there’s so much to cover for matric and we are already down by two weeks of syllabus. Covid-19 has already altered our lives, now it is changing how we learn and go to school.”

But grade 12 pupil Anele Ndlovu from Durban believes the delay could help her mentally and emotionally prepare for matric and the new normal in a not-so-normal setting.

“I know that every bit of time counts in matric and I am not 100 percent in favour of the two week delay, but I will use this time effectively. My family all tested positive last year, including me, and it was a trying time. I will take this time to mentally prepare for the year ahead and strengthen my goals.”

South African public schools were scheduled to reopen on January 27, but schools for all grades will now open on February 15. School management teams will return on January 25 and teachers on February 1.

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