SONA 2021: Government determined to regain school time lost due to Covid-19 lockdown
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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government is determined to regain lost time in the classroom this year after Covid-19 severely affected the school calendar last year.
In 2020, pupils at public schools had an interrupted school calendar and the school year was marred by interruptions caused by the pandemic.
As such, the class of 2020 wrote their matric exams well into December and their matric results are yet to be released.
Normally, matric results - both from public and independent schools - are released in early January, but this year they are expected to be released later in February, with universities and colleges set to commence classes in March.
While delivering his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa said the disruptions caused a burden for pupils, their parents and teachers alike.
“Of the many hardships our people had to experience last year, schooling disruption placed a huge burden on learners, teachers and families.
“Despite this they persevered.
“It is our priority for this year to regain lost time and improve educational outcomes, from the early years through to high school and post-school education and training,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 2021 academic calendar had to be postponed by more than two weeks in January after teachers feared for their lives.
Speaking on vaccines, Ramaphosa said the government would undertake a “massive vaccination programme to save lives and dramatically reduce infections across the population”.
In addition to the one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses that are in the possession of the State, government has procured 9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for health and other frontline workers, 12 million additional doses through the Covax scheme and another 20 million doses from Pfizer.
In addition, South Africa is set to benefit through the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team facility.
“We are continuing our engagements with all the vaccine manufacturers to ensure that we secure sufficient quantities of vaccines that are suitable to our conditions.
“The health and safety of our people remains our paramount concern.
“All medication imported into the country is monitored, evaluated, investigated, inspected and registered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
“We will continue to use the science-driven approach that has served us well since the earliest days of the pandemic.
“The success of the vaccination programme will rely on active collaboration between all sectors of society,” said Ramaphosa.
He said he was also encouraged by the active involvement of business, labour, the health industry and medical schemes in preparing for the mass vaccination drive.
“As we have overcome before, we will overcome again and rise.
“But it is not just this disease that we must defeat.
“We must overcome poverty and hunger, joblessness and inequality.
“We must overcome a legacy of exclusion and dispossession that continues to impoverish our people, and which this pandemic has severely worsened,” said Ramaphosa.