Back to school Motshekga

Photo: Adobe Stock

Back to school latest: Five major changes under consideration

Angie Mothskega has postponed an address to the nation, regarding SA’s ‘back to school’ plans. Education officials are faced with some difficult choices.

Back to school Motshekga

Photo: Adobe Stock

Monday was set to be a waiting game for the learners, teachers and parents of South Africa – but their agonising will continue for a little while longer. At some point in the day, it was expected that Education Minister Angie Motshekga would outline the ‘back to school’ roadmap for our youngsters. But, for the third time this month, the address has been postponed.

Draft proposals submitted at the end of April split public opinion, with many South Africans questioning if it is safe to send children back to school at this point. The Department of Education are confident that next month is the the best time to get going again, and the following resolutions are still being debated:

Back to school plans – five huge changes under consideration:

Grades to return separately

It was the headline feature of the Education Department’s draft proposals, and it is likely to remain in place as part of the final submissions: But Grade 12 and Grade 7 students may soon be told that they will be the first ones back to school when it is safe to resume. The department is still, apparently, looking to restart in early June.

Some cities could fall behind the rest of the country, keeping their schools closed

The department is going to have to consider how different parts of the country are coping with coronavirus. Each of South Africa’s 52 districts will be assessed individually before getting approval to move on to an easier stage of lockdown. But disease hot-spots in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Buffalo City, Mangaung, and NMB may not be able to open their doors due to the high risk of transmission.

Could Grade 12 learners be sent to ‘learning camps’?

This one surfaced on Sunday, but it’s understood that the Education Department is considering putting more than 150 000 Grade 12 students into ‘special learning camps’ away from home, for a period of five weeks.

Several representatives from the teaching industry have backed the idea, which would isolate matric learners along with their classmates and teachers. The aim would be to teach the remainder of the school year in just a matter of weeks, ramping up the intensity of the lessons. This is likely to be discussed over the next 24 hours.

Back to school: Students may attend ‘on alternate days or weeks’

The department’s director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, suggested during a virtual meeting with governing body associations and a principals’ association on Sunday that the school calendar itself could undergo a massive change.

According to TimesLive, different grades would be told to attend classes on alternate days of the week or in alternate weeks. For example, Grade 7 pupils could attend on a Monday and Tuesday, on ‘week one’ of the new calendar. Mweli believes this could work if schools operate at 50% of capacity.

‘The platoon system’ could get kids back to school

There has been a lot of chatter about this, and with good reason. We understand Angie Motshekga and her team are considering ‘platooning’ children. That means sending them into school where some grades only attend in the morning then head home, before other grades come in for the afternoon shift.

There’s a belief that giving each grade their own time in the school will properly allow for smaller class sizes and the practices of social distancing. Angie Motshekga was due to confirm some of these changes on Monday, but the Education Department have once again stalled for more time.

Let’s hope our new timeslot of 16:00 on Tuesday remains in place.