Blended face-to-face and remote learning can help solve education crisis, experts suggest
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A BLENDED model, which includes face-to-face, with some of the remote learning experiences, could be a solution to the disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, education experts have suggested.
Experts in the education sector gathered at a webinar themed “African solutions for African problems”. The aim of the webinar, held by the Kagiso Trust's latest Education Conversation, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), was for the experts to engage on curriculum coverage, online teaching and the digital divide, remote learning and pupil well-being.
What came out strongest from the webinar was the need for the roll-out of a strong information and communication technology (ICT) programme in schools, as well as a comprehensive examination and righting of needs and services, at grassroots level, was required.
Teachers voiced that the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruptions to the academic year forced them to be innovative.
Professor Petrus du Plessis, of the UJ Faculty of Education, said: "Emotionally, teachers are drained, academically, they are stretched to the limit. Our teachers and our pupils are, at the moment, academically unfit since they went back to school.”
While Professor Kat Yassim, also from the UJ Education Faculty, said face-to-face, with some of the remote learning experiences, could be the solution.
"It certainly makes learning cheaper. How can we provide quality learning for everyone? We should look to the future and not just how do we get back to the way things were.
"Education in your pocket, for example. How do we use cellphone technology as one of the ways we can enable access?" Yassim questioned.
Yandisa Tshutshani, an economics teacher, raised a concern over the country’s unequal education gap and access to technology.
"We cannot make those who did not have access feel less than those who do. Individual schools and teachers can be creative in how they can overcome the gap. There are factors outside of our control and that of the pupils. The Department of Education has a pivotal role in empowering and allowing teachers, schools and pupils to play their part, regardless of interruptions in teaching and learning, especially in rural communities and schools,” she said.
Tshutshani made an example of how teachers were innovative and would record themselves teaching, and distribute the recordings to pupils over WhatsApp. Others created YouTube channels as a platform for distributing teaching material.