RETURNING primary school pupils to full-time attendance may not be a wise decision as class numbers in poor communities are too big. | Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA).
RETURNING primary school pupils to full-time attendance may not be a wise decision as class numbers in poor communities are too big. | Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA).

Full-time school attendance for primary school pupils is not wise, says expert

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 20, 2021

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RETURNING primary school pupils to full-time attendance may not be a wise decision as class numbers in poor communities are too big.

This is according to the head of the curriculum studies department at Stellenbosch University, Professor Michael le Cordeur.

“While we cannot deny the negative impact on children’s education, they will only be vaccinated in 2022, which puts them and their teachers at risk,” he said.

The Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirmed that they were in talks with provincial education heads on possibly allowing primary school pupils to attend school daily.

In an interview with television news channel eNCA, Mhlanga said the DBE was not the only one calling for full-time attendance, but said it would do so responsibly.

“We depend on the health experts to tell us what is possible,” he said.

Most public schools are attending on a rotation schedule, the hybrid model. This means pupils are in school two days in one week and three days the following week – five days fortnightly.

There have been concerns that the hybrid model was not working out.

Dr Felicity Coughlan, a director at the Independent Institute of Educationn said: “If you are only at school three days out of five, or every second week, there is no consistency in the learning process.”

Le Cordeur said the impact of the pandemic on academics differed from school to school and from society to society.

“Those in private schools have least been affected, if at all. But those in poor communities has fallen far behind which emphasise the inequalities in the education system.”

He said it was, however, always possible for teachers to make up the time lost due to the pandemic.

“Children are very clever. And many teachers have learnt how to teach under adversity.

“Start with the basics. Make sure children are healthy by keeping to the protocol so that they are in school when required. And then importantly ensure that all teachers are present and teaching. We do not need miracles. Just commitment from all,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation SA (Naptosa) said teacher unions expect to be part of the meetings that will discuss the possible return of school pupils to 100% daily attendance.

“We are worried. On the other hand, we have always said there are certain principles that are non-negotiable and those include the fact that schools must be health and safety aware and that the health and safety of our members must be absolute as well as that of the children,” said Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel.

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