A concerned parent fears that lack of structure and contact from teachers will widen the education divide between children at affluent and ordinary schools. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
A concerned parent fears that lack of structure and contact from teachers will widen the education divide between children at affluent and ordinary schools. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Parents fear hybrid model timetable will result in pupils falling behind in school work

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Mar 30, 2021

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“It feels like the education divide is widening as affluent schools are definitely more equipped for digital/remote learning while ordinary schools in working-class communities battle to keep afloat.”

These are the words of a concerned parent who fears that her 10-year-old daughter, who is in Grade 4, will fall behind in her academics due to the inefficiencies in the education system.

The parent, who declined to be named, said her daughter’s school, Newfields Primary, opted to divide classes into two groups and follow the hybrid model. This means Group A attends school on Monday and Wednesday and Group B attends on Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays are rotated between the two groups, so one week a group will have three days of school and the next week they'll have two days.

“Last year, a lot of lessons were being shared via WhatsApp and teachers shared additional resources as well. This year, there is minimal communication and we don't always know if we're doing the right thing.

“I'm also deeply concerned that the model that my daughter's school follows might result in her being far behind her peers at other schools which combine face-to-face teaching with online classes,” the parent said.

With the work the 10-year-old gets on her non-contact teaching and learning days, they work for up to eight hours completing the homework pack handed to them the day before that is due the next day.

The parent suggested that teachers perhaps spread the work out over a full week and that the standard of education is equal for all.

“It would be great if the teachers’ lessons were recorded, so that all children – whether they are in class or working at home – are working on the same material and at the same pace.

“This would require digital devices like laptops and tablets, as well as data, so perhaps a deal with major retailers, tech manufacturers and cellphone networks can be tailored to ensure parents can afford the tools needed,” the parent suggested.

Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, said teachers were responsible for the work done at schools, but called for a meaningful partnership between schools and home, to address the learning losses brought on by Covid-19.

He said the department is concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on education.

“Our researchers are saying that it will take years for a full recovery to happen, if at all. So there has to be a strong partnership between school and home,” he said.

Mhlanga added that the dynamics were different at schools, therefore different approaches were put in place to ensure pupils’ support.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said schools have been given the amended school curriculum to follow and a curriculum coverage tool to guide teachers. All schools are to ensure that pupils have the relevant tasks, assessments and worksheets to take home to continue learning there.

Other measures to assist with this process include:

– The WCED has created a set of “lesson plans” for all grades in the three languages for teachers to use to guide them on the curriculum that should be followed each week, with examples of materials and tasks that could be used. Parents can also download these documents to use at home.

– “Take home” packages are distributed at the end of each term – like a revision pack on what is covered in the “lesson plans” – which they can take home for the holidays.

– Radio broadcasts are available on various radio channels – Zibonele, Radio 786 and ITV.

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