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'Children don't have time to breathe', teacher agrees with too much homework sentiment

Picture: Pexels

Picture: Pexels

Published Mar 8, 2022

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An article featured in the Weekend Argus has sparked conversation around the amount of homework children receive.

In the article, a mum of a Grade 1 learner shared about her daughter's school load. Sakeenah Ponto said, as a Muslim, the homework load was an issue as her daughter also had to attend Islamic lessons.

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"Our kids basically have a full 12 plus hours of non-stop learning at such a young age. This is something that causes mental breakdowns. I have heard mothers complaining that their children aren't coping at all," she said.

Another mum, Natasha Abuba, said her daughter, who is in high school, sometimes has to do her work on weekends.

"Teachers must understand that weekends are for children to rest, and they need to rest in order to feel fresh for the next school day. If it was still going every second day to school, then I would understand because they would need to catch up on work," Abuba said.

Responding to the report, a Grade 2 teacher with 11 years of teaching experience, agreed that children are being given too much homework.

"I would really like to say that teachers are not the ones who set the amount of homework, especially in the foundation phase. I agree that children receive far too much homework and that our children in the foundation phase are in class for too long and are doing too much work in the classroom,“ she said.

The teacher said most of her learners are 7-years old.

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“They spend almost seven hours inside the classroom with only one break of 30 minutes, which includes walking to the field and back. So realistically, a 20 minute break," the teacher said.

She added that during their day in the class, learners do not have a second to breathe.

She said the amount of work in the curriculum is far too much.

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"I often have to move on to the next topic before everyone has grasped the last one. This amount of work comes straight from the department of education. They set our curriculum. They tell us how many tests to do. They send us teaching plans with what we need to cover. The department also tells us what work they need to do at home, and the school management plays a role in this.

"We, as teachers, have complained about it multiple times and just get ignored. I have personally relayed this information to the department representatives, and we just get treated as if we are too lazy to teach it. We are focusing on quantity rather than quality in this country, and that's why our education system is in shambles," the teacher said.

However, according to Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, there are planned changes coming to make up for time lost during stricter lockdown measures, and it includes more homework. Speaking at a government lekgotla, Motshekga said the department is looking at increasing learning time by providing extra classes, enforcing daily school attendance and more homework for learners.

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