'Pupils from poor schools don't get support from teachers while studying on their own during lockdown'
JET Education Services, a Joburg-based non-profit organisation offering specialised education research, interviewed 16 parents and spoke to 19 by telephone for its study looking into home educational experiences of families during the lockdown.
Led by JET’s former chief executive, Dr Nick Taylor, 11 researchers started their survey on March 31, four days into the country’s lockdown. Of the 16 interviewed families, seven sent their children to ordinary public schools, three to former Model C schools and six had their children in independent schools (two of these being low-cost).
“All independent and Model C schools attended by children in the sample had given learners work to do during lockdown; only two public schools had done so,” the study said.
“Five children - two from one family - reported engaging in learning during lockdown although their schools had not given them any work.”
Not being given work was just one of the obstacles learners from public schools experienced.
Most did not receive support from their teachers as they tried to study on their own at home.
“The majority of the families whose children attended public schools were not receiving any guidance from their schools during the lockdown,” said the JET study.
“In contrast, those parents whose children attended independent or Model C schools were more likely to be guided by the school as to how to support their children’s education at home.
“Schools generally used a combination of electronic and paper-based forms of communication with children, with Google Classroom a relatively common option.”
While most of the ordinary public school learners were not getting any school work, their Model C and independent schools were receiving core education via online platforms.
One Model C school learner said she was submitting work via Google Classroom.
“All the teachers from the different subjects are on the group for that subject, then the teachers send the work through that needs to be done for the week, or until we come back to school.
“There’s a little tab in Classroom where you take a picture of your work, then you submit it and it goes to your teacher. They then give feedback.
“I had to hand in my Afrikaans oral and prepared reading, then the teacher gave me suggestions on what I could fix,” she said.
Lack of support from schools translated into uncertainty and anxiety among parents, said the report.
“This seems especially true for the caregivers with lower levels of education. Clearly, their own literacy level is something that was creating anxiety among some caregivers, as they did not feel equipped to help their children.”
A parent said: “Because I’m uneducated, I’ve been facing difficulties helping them with their school work.”
Expensive data was also a stumbling block for poor families.
“There are no resources, the libraries are closed. No one in the community has resources to buy data and go to Google all the time.
“It’s difficult,” said a parent.
JET recommended that schools should provide printed learning materials to poorer learners, to be collected from school.