Lockdown break disappoints matriculants

Nodumo Makaza 

Matric students have expressed concern on the Covid-19 lockdown that has put their studies on hold.

  This comes after the announcement by the Basic Education department that schooling may only resume on 1 June for the Grade 7 and 12 learners.

  Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently said schools need at least a month to prepare for the educators’ return.

  “We need the whole month to prepare for the return of learners and we are starting on 4 May to prepare. The main aim is to make sure that as the education sector we don’t want to contribute to the spread of corona virus,” she said.

  Matric students are worried about the time they have lost on studies and are unsure that they will have enough time to prepare for their exams.

  A Grade 12 student at New Model School in the Joburg CBD, Chantelle Mnguni said: “It is disappointing for us not to attend our lessons because we are losing a lot of time that could have been used productively. We do not have another year to redeem ourselves, unlike other grades.” 

  She added that studying at home is not easy, as there are a lot of distractions, and it requires one to be disciplined to be able to adhere to the studying timetable, and online classes have proven to be unproductive.

  “Sometimes I attend online lessons on a WhatsApp group with other students but it’s not effective as some students do not always have data and the teacher is forced to cancel lessons,” she said.

  The resolution by the Department of Higher Education to resort to e-learning is proving to be difficult, as well as widening the inequality gap in the education sector.

  Marketing and Communications manager at Jeppe College Mashudu Munyai says some students do not have access to the internet as they live in areas with no network connection.

  “Some students cannot access remote learning on Facebook, WhatsApp or emails because they live in areas where they cannot access network connectivity, and data is expensive. This makes it difficult for teachers to continue lessons with a few students,” he said.

  He said monthly assessment enshrined on the academic year plan have also been disturbed.

  “We were supposed to start trimester exams on the 31 March and up to now the decision regarding the exams has not been made. The Department of Higher Education and Training’s exam timetable has been disorganized,” he said. 

  Teachers have also not been spared by the corona virus lockdown, as it has caused financial instability around the country. This has made most parents to neglect paying fees, making teachers lose their sources of income.

  The lockdown has also affected pupils in lower grades, who are uncertain of the future. Noma Sibanda, the mother of a Grade 2 pupil at Esteri primary school in the Joburg CBD says it has been a difficult time for her daughter as she cannot afford data for her to attend online lessons.

  “It has been a challenging time for me and my daughter. I cannot afford data though I try teaching her spelling and reading. She used to do drama as her extra mural activity, these drama lessons are available online, but I cannot afford data as I’m not working at the moment,” she says.

  The Basic Education department is yet to provide proposed dates for the re-opening of other grades.

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