Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on March 26 assured South Africans that pupils would catch up on all lost work once schools reopen.
Learners had not been in school since the President declared an emergency shutdown of schools, effective March 18.
At the time, schools were expected to reopen on April 14; however, on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a three-week national lockdown until April 16.
Motshekga, during a media briefing, confirmed that there had been no date set for schools to reopen and that it would depend on the progress made with “flattening the curve” of Covid-19 infections.
She said the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was continuously working on a “recovery plan” that would be implemented whenever schools reopen.
The plan will be based around, and informed by, the amount of “lost days” during the lockdown.
Schools would lose ten days should the lockdown end on April 16.
Motshekga said the lost school days would be recovered over the coming school holidays. For example, the June holiday could be seven days shorter and the September holiday could be three days shorter to make up for ten lost days during the lockdown.
The DBE would, closer to the time, advise when schools would be reopening, provide guidance on how to prepare for the opening of schools for the second term, which will include basic health and hygiene guidelines, since the risk of contracting the virus would still be there.
“We will possibly have longer classes with enrichment material. To compensate for further lost days, we are continuously assessing how much time we will be losing and calculate our recovery plan accordingly.
“The recovery plan will also incorporate social distancing measures, which will require schools making more space in classrooms or hosting classes where there is more space available,” the Minister said.
In the meantime, the DBE had come up with “extraordinary and creative” ways to assist and support learners and parents to recover lost schooling time.
To this end, the department had worked with key partners to make content available on information and communications technology (ICT) platforms.
For example, the DBE agreed that lessons would be broadcast on South African Broadcasting Corporation’s television and radio channels, while educational content would also be broadcast on DStv’s channel 180.
Additionally, eTV had allocated a dedicated channel for three months to broadcast educational lessons on its OpenView platform.
The broadcasting schedule of all DBE’s educational content was available on its website.
Motshekga further confirmed that educational programmes and maths and science support would be available on two mobile applications and in various indigenous languages.
The DBE had also worked with the National Reading Coalition to provide enjoyable reading content in various languages on the DBE’s website. The Minister urged parents to read with their children.
Motshekga advised that travel exemptions would be made for people who needed to travel to care for children with special needs during the lockdown.
The DBE was communicating with the Department of Social Development around continuing to feed the 9.6-million children – as part of its School Nutrition Programme – who would normally be part of feeding schemes at public schools.
Moreover, Motshekga requested that people not spread incorrect information or any information related to when schools would reopen.
“We are aware that people continue to spread incorrect information; fake news costs a lot of damage to the work we are doing in these circumstances. We urge the public to not spread information around when schools will reopen and any related education matter.
“The exact dates for the reopening of schools for the second term will be dependent on the curb of the spread of the virus (flattening the curve) during the lockdown."