The class of 2021 might never recover from the effects the Covid-19 pandemic wrought on education warns Nic Spaull, associate professor of economics at Stellenbosch University, as matriculants prepare to write their finals.
Spaull said it was increasingly looking like the lost generation in terms of education.
“If children miss 50 percent of their schooling for three years in a row, they will never recover. Their learning outcomes, earnings as an adult and general life outcomes will be lower."
Spaull said this pandemic had brought the largest disruption to education since pre-1994.
“We are not catching up on losses that happened in 2020. Rotational timetables are ongoing even now in 2021 in at least half of all schools. That means that learning losses are still increasing.”
The education sector is one department that has had to bear the brunt of the pandemic. Over the past 18 months, schooling methods have had to be revisited numerous times.
The matric class of 2021 started and will now end their final year of schooling in the pandemic.
The National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations commence on Wednesday. In the Western Cape, 73,966 candidates will participate, writing at 486 exam centres across the province. This includes both full time and part-time candidates.
A total of 1,887 invigilators have been employed.
Spokesperson to Western Cape MEC for education, Kerry Mauchline, said invigilators were not required to be vaccinated.
“We, nonetheless, encourage all eligible residents of the Western Cape to get vaccinated, to protect themselves and others from serious illness.”
Mauchline said many lessons were learned from the 2020 NSC examinations that could be applied to the 2021exam period.
“The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has provided a detailed set of Covid-19 guidelines that must be followed at all exam venues, including physical distancing, sanitising hands and surfaces, wearing masks, and daily screening,” she said.
“It also outlines the procedures for learners with symptoms. The application of these protocols has been included in the training of the various exam officials.”
During this time, exam venues would not be used for other purposes, Mauchline said.
“Separate venues are being arranged for any learners who test positive for Covid-19 but are still well enough to write their exams and would like to do so.”
Pupils have had to be show greater disciplined and temerity, she said.
Orin Subramany is a matriculant at Belhar High School, who contracted Covid-19 in June. “Having to stay out of school that long and being in Matric was tough. I had severe body aches and migraines and that was the worst part,” Subramany said
Being a matriculant in a pandemic came with many ups and downs, she said.
“This pandemic has not only separated us as a class, but has disadvantaged us from many things, like having a matric farewell and many things previous matriculants would have had.
“The workload has been a lot and at some point, I felt very overwhelmed with all the pressure," she said.