The Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture was briefed by the Department of Basic Education on the status of the reopening of schools and a revised school calendar, following a four-month break due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The committee welcomed reports that all grades have since returned to school following a phased-in reopening approach, as well as a comprehensive catch-up plan by the department to try make up for lost teaching and learning time due to the lockdown.
The committee was, however, concerned about the disruption of schooling, often by disgruntled community members who were against the decision to reopen schools, claiming the reopening of schools will expose learners to Covid-19.
“We are worried about the disruption of schooling, it further adds on the time lost – under normal circumstances if a learner misses a school day due to sickness or other reasons, they will take a minimum of two days to catch up, we cannot accept any further disruption of schooling in this situation,” said committee Chairperson Mr Elleck Nchabeleng.
The Chairperson also urged parents to “put their hands on deck” and help their children catch up with the curriculum as “these are no ordinary times”.
The department also told the committee that not all learners have returned to school despite the announcement for all grades to go back, and this decision was based on fear and anxiety.
Some parents fear that their kids can get infected, despite scientific evidence that very few school children die from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The committee was also assured that talks are going on between the department and universities on the reviewed school calendar for next year’s university registration by learners who will sit for their matric exams this year.
Responding to committee members’ questions on personal protective equipment (PPEs) spending, the department said it was among those state institutions and departments that will be investigated by the Special Investigative Unit for possible irregularities in the procurement of PPEs.