When will schools open again

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June, September school holidays may be revoked because of lockdown

The lockdown has seriously impacted learning in South Africa.

When will schools open again

Image via Adobe Stock

School holidays in June and September may be revoked to make up for lost time incurred by the national lockdown.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has already begun consultation processes with various stakeholders in the education sector to determine the feasibility of extending the school term. The national lockdown, ordered by President Cyril Ramaphosa to last until 16 April, has severely impacted basic education in the country.

Worryingly, for pupils and parents alike, government has not yet confirmed whether the lockdown will be extended and, if it is prolonged, what concessions will be made regarding the school term.

KZN schools likely to forfeit future holidays

During an address regarding the province’s reaction to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, Zikalala warned that the plan to recoup lost education time would be “intense”. Zikalala said:

“KwaZulu-Natal has the largest number of learners compared to other provinces. We are ramping up the existing education programme on various media platforms.

“The department is consulting, but we don’t foresee the province having any substantive holidays should we start after this lockdown.”

Zikalala added that the KwaZulu-Natal government was working closely with the national administration to determine an agreeable and beneficial post-lockdown schooling programme.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said that although there is “no guarantee” that schools would reopen immediately following the 21-day lockdown period, the department remains committed to salvaging the curriculum and matric exams. Motshekga recently reiterated:

“2020 will not go down the drain; we will do whatever it takes. By hook or crook, they [matric pupils] are writing this year.”

Attention turns to eLearning

Some provinces, including the Western Cape and Free State, have taken proactive measures to keep the wheels of education moving through digital innovation.

Debbie Schäfer, minister of education in the Western Cape, recently announced the launch of an eLearning platform which would provide support to learners. In conjunction with the Department of Basic Education’s matric support package, the digital platform hosts 14 000 e-Resources categorised per grade and subject. Schäfer elaborated on the programme:

“The ePortal houses over 14 400 resources, of which 8 200 are free resources, consisting of video clips, audio clips, digital documents, lessons and lesson plans. They are available to all school communities at any time.

“Learners can access past examination papers, look at videos on certain topics in certain grades and subjects, or download images explaining certain textures, processes or functions, such as the different types of soil.”

Minister Motshekga is expected to provide an update regarding the education system and school term after consulting with government on the possible extension of the lockdown.

Read: Western Cape schools vandalised during lockdown