"The doors of learning and culture shall be opened!"

"The doors of learning and culture shall be opened!"

Maboni Mmatli | 19 May 2020

It has been over two months since learners in South Africa have seen the inside of a classroom and enjoyed the bliss that comes with the experience. Over this course, different stakeholder in the sector have been submitting their opinions and ideas on how best to get the learners back into the classroom and successfully complete the 2020 academic calendar.

On Tuesday, May 19th 2020, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) addressed the nation and members of the media on their plans to direct the future of the 2020 academic year, the re-opening of schools and the continuation of teaching and learning. The minister of Basic Education – Angie Motshekga – emphasized that the key guidelines to the plans to re-open the schools is the safety of the department’s employers (educators and support stuff) and learners. “All learners, educators and support stuff will receive training on the safety measure needed to stop the spread of the virus”, said the minister. Educators are therefore requested to report to their schools on Monday, the 25th of May 2020 and grade 12 and 7 learners on Monday, June 1st 2020.

Talking about how ready the schools are to re-open and welcome the first batch of learners in the form of grade 12s and grade 7s, the ministered mentioned that essential materials like Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), sanitizers, and water has been delivered, and others in the process of being delivered to secure warehouses in the different provinces. According to the minister, the department is working closely with the Department of Transport to ensure the safety of learners for the purpose of travelling. “We are working with the department of transport to ensure that business are cleaned and sanitized and that everyone boarding the bus follows the safety guidelines of sanitization and social distancing”.

The two months unintended break has created a backlog of work in terms of the curriculum for the learners. For this reason, other grades’ curriculum will be trimmed but not that of the grade 12s. When asked about the plan for matric examination, the Deputy Minister - (Dr Regina Mhuale) – mentioned that the learners will write a full paper and the paper is already set, ready and available. “They are going to write a full paper”, said the deputy minister. Together, the minister and her deputy announced that the changed 2020 school calendar will be gazetted in cooperation with the different provinces to ensure that no school is left behind. What parents, guardians and communities should be aware of is that the new / changed 2020 school calendar is going to have an impact on the one for 2021.

For the learners returning to schools on June the 1st, food nutrition will be made available and the people handling the food will be provided with PPEs. In addition to this, the minister mentioned that screening will take place on a day-to-day basis and urged parents and guardians who have children with underlying conditions to come forth and declare the pre-existing ailments. When asked whether parents can choose to keep their children at home and not send them back to school, the ministers answered with a “Yes!” but advised those parents opting to do so to consider home-schooling arrangements and follow the relevant steps to register the child with the relevant authority.

If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us is that we need each other and have to work together”, said Minister Angie Motshekga.

***** picture sourced from smithsonianmag.com *****