School curriculum to be 'realigned' to compensate for lost days
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Durban - Teachers and pupils had lost an entire term out of the school year as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, which would require the curriculum to be adjusted in order to catch up, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said yesterday.
“We have lost a whole term, because March to June is the second term, and we will probably be losing more days to the virus,” Motshekga told a media briefing.
This meant that the department would have to ensure a realignment of the school curriculum, she said. Officials at national and provincial level had already started tweaking it, with the help of academics, she added.
Motshekga said the lockdown imposed in late March had seen jobs lost, families “traumatised”, and the education system come to a standstill.
For schools to reopen, a “new environment” had to be created, said the minister. The Education Department had faced a lot of problems in the process.
“It has caused a lot of difficulties,” she conceded.
On Sunday, Motshekga was meant to brief South Africans on the state of readiness of schools to reopen, but cancelled the briefing at the 11th hour.
Yesterday, she apologised for leaving parents and teachers in confusion regarding the opening.
She said ongoing consultations with parent and principal associations and teacher unions at the weekend had delayed the media briefing.
“I must acknowledge the furore the postponement of yesterday’s media conference caused, and for that I sincerely apologise.
“I also had to communicate with the SA Human Rights Commission, which had also raised concerns about the resumption of classes today. I wish to apologise wholeheartedly for the inconvenience,” Motshekga said.
She said the Council of Education Ministers had received three reports on the state of school readiness.
Based on the reports it was clear that schools were at different levels of readiness, said Motshekga.
“It was decided that teachers whose schools had received personal protective equipment (PPE) would be expected to report for work yesterday.”
She said provinces that had reflected a high level of readiness were Gauteng and the Western Cape, and those with a medium state of readiness included the Northern Cape, North West and the Eastern Cape. Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga were the least ready.
She said it was decided that provinces should finalise outstanding deliveries of PPE and the provision of water and sanitation this week.
“The ongoing cleaning of schools should be finalised within this week, and teachers and support staff should be inducted and orientated for the new environment brought about by the Covid-19,” she said.
Motshekga said provinces should work on finalising the training of screeners, cleaners and volunteers for the national school nutrition programme, while processes related to independent schools, small schools and schools for pupils with special education needs would be managed with sector representatives.
“Provinces are now putting shoulder to wheel to ensure that all prerequisites not yet fulfilled will be delivered within the week. We, together with our partners, have agreed to another urgent meeting on Thursday to continue to monitor and evaluate all outstanding compliance imperatives,” she said.
She added that the sector had agreed that teaching and learning was expected to resume on June 8.
Motshekga said her department had published a Government Gazette with directives in terms of regulations under the Disaster Management Act regarding the reopening of schools, and measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19, on May29.
“We have been receiving many enquiries regarding the matric exams. It is clear that there is a lot of anxiety on the matter, and we had to gazette it as well, since it is also an extremely sensitive matter in the basic education system,” Motshekga said.
“The May/June 2020 examination for candidates who registered for the Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate will be administered in November/December 2020 unless unforeseen circumstances occur, in which instance I, as the minister, shall make the necessary determination,” she said.
Rand Water representative Teboho Joala said 3126 schools needed water aid in terms of the provision of tanks or a water reticulation system.
In KZN, 1125 schools needed aid, while 756 schools in the Eastern Cape, 475 schools in Limpopo and 435 schools in Mpumalanga also needed assistance. He said tanks were currently on the way to schools.