Calls for specific subject focus as lockdown poses a threat to 2020 academic year.

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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Durban - The Department of Basic Education should review its curriculum and focus on specific subjects that are needed to allow pupils to progress to the next grade to save this academic year.

This is the recommendation from Professor Labby Ramrathan, director of the School of Education Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who said the disruptions to the schooling calendar would make it almost impossible to complete the curriculum for every subject.

His warning comes after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said last week that the department did not know when schools might reopen, following the national lockdown because of Covid-19.

“Our curriculum is wide and covers a lot of things, but it should be reviewed to focus on key aspects that will have an impact if a pupil progresses to the next grade,” said Ramrathan.

“The same should apply for Grade 12 pupils, the department should be engaging with universities and other tertiary institutions to identify the key aspects in the curriculum that needs to be covered for pupils to be ready for tertiary education,” he said.

He said any recovery plan would need full participation from teachers, parents and community leaders.

In her address, Motshekga said the department would not set tests on aspects that had not been taught. She said pupils had lost time in both terms.

“We are looking at what we have lost in terms of time, days and hours, and making plans on how we recover from that.”

Motshekga said the department was facing a difficult task because asking teachers to work outside normal school hours would be unfair and pupils also could not be put through long hours of learning without breaks.

Thirona Moodley, KwaZulu-Natal chief executive of National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), said extraordinary measures needed to be put in place so the academic year would not be lost.

“The situation of our pupils is not a hopeless one. Naptosa can assure the public that our members are ready to complete the academic year and will do whatever is reasonably possible to ensure that not only Grade 12 pupils are a priority, but all the pupils are,” she said.

National Teachers Union president Allen Thompson said the lockdown was also an opportunity for the department to address infrastructure challenges such as water, sanitation and overcrowding, to make sure the schools are ready to accept pupils when they return and limit the risk of further infections.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, said they had numerous plans to assist pupils, including lessons broadcast on radio stations - Ukhozi, Igagasi and Vuma FM.

“There is also an app called Funda KZN that we created and loaded learning material on, from Grade R to Grade 12,” said Mshengu.

The Mercury

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