Covid-19 and schools: 3 years of curriculum catch up

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga anticipates a three-year catch up on parts of the 2020 school curriculum due to the impact of the pandemic.

Motshekga said that while the department trimmed the curriculum, the work would still be covered in the grades to which learners progressed.

“We are going to only teach, assess almost 70% of what [internal grades] were supposed to have taken. And in 2021, when the Grade 3s, for instance, start, we will start with Grade 2 work which we had removed from the curriculum.”

The minister visited two high schools in the North West to monitor the return of Grade 12s, who returned to school on Monday after a week-long break.

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She said the truncated curriculum would only see 70% of the syllabus completed by December. She added that the catch-up programme might run for about three years.

“But we are not going to dump the 30% that we have not done. We are going to factor it into 2021. In 2021, again, we don’t think we will finish the work of 2020/2021 in 2021.

“That’s why I say it’s going to be a three-year programme to see if we can clock back what we have lost.”

Speaking out against the government’s decision to close public schools again, local paediatricians said in a statement that the decision is not based on scientific evidence, and the benefits to children of attending school outweighs the risks to both children and the broader community.

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“With no clear evidence that closing schools significantly reduces community transmission or overall deaths, local paediatric doctors call for all grades to be allowed to return to school as soon as possible. 

“Those school communities which are at risk, either due to high local transmission rates or poor infrastructure, should be identified and supported immediately to mitigate their risks so that they can reopen as soon as possible. 

“Where schools are unable to reopen, the DBE must ensure that all learners continue to have adequate academic material via radio, television, cell phone applications and all other means necessary. 

“Educators must be held accountable for providing ongoing academic support and material at all times,” the paediatricians said.