Gauteng learners hit hard by effects of Covid-19
Pretoria - Learners in Gauteng have shared sad stories of how their lives have changed for the worst due to the lingering effects of Covid-19 since its outbreak in the country last year.
This was at a dialogue on how the pandemic had affected their human rights , hosted by Sedibeng District Municipality at Vereeniging City Hall.
In attendance was Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who said the idea behind the dialogue was not to parade people’s suffering but “to talk about a really devastating pandemic that has destroyed some of our families”.
“For us to call you here is not to demonstrate the pain that you have, but to share the pain that you have gone through and the losses that you have gone through,” she said.
Five learners related their heart- wrenching experiences, and one of them was a Grade 6 learner Zandile Dlamini, who lamented the fact that the new normal had adversely affected her basic human rights.
"My right to health, education, freedom, food and safety have been infringed on by the changes that are happening due to Covid-19,“ she said.
Her unforgettable experience with Covid-19 was when one of her relatives tested positive and succumbed to the virus.
“In one case my relative was admitted to hospital and never came back.
“All I heard was that he was no more, and because of this new normal I couldn’t even attend his funeral and this left me emotionally disturbed.”
Another learner, Kolokoto Thato, expressed her fears that her right to education might continue to suffer, especially in the event of the coronavirus’s third wave.
“I am anxious that we will have the third wave of Covid-19, but perseverance is the mother of success.”
She described the period when schools were forced to close down last year to prevent the coronavirus from spreading as “depressing”.
She said the bad news broken by her teachers that they would not be able to complete the 2020 syllabus “were depressing”.
Grade 12 learner Paballo Lesibo was infected alongside her family when both her grandparents were admitted into a hospital.
“My siblings and my self-employed mother had to self-quarantine. Being self-quarantined was hard. We didn’t have enough food to eat. My mother was unemployed.”
In February, her grandparents were discharged from hospital, “but they were different”, she said.
“My grandmother already had a heart problem, and unfortunately she passed away a few weeks ago.
“I have this indescribable pain … the person who financially supported me is no longer present; the person I emotionally leaned on is no longer present.”
Grade 12 learner Buhle Mngadi also narrated the unspeakable pain emanating from the loss of her grandfather due to the coronavirus.
“I attended the funeral in the Eastern Cape. I had to attend the funeral in order to get closure for myself.
“When I came back to school from the Eastern Cape no one wanted to associate themselves with me. They didn’t know whether I was infected or not.”
The dialogue was part of this year’s Human Rights commemorations and the strategic response to the impact of Covid-19 in the schools’ programme, seeking to evaluate the impact of the virus in township and farm schools, with a view to provide psychosocial support from sector departments and enhance access to curriculum needs.