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Violence, unplaced learners among the number of issues plaguing basic education sector

Rahima Essop, Zero-Dropout Campaign spokesperson, said drop-outs had increased this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Rahima Essop, Zero-Dropout Campaign spokesperson, said drop-outs had increased this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 31, 2021

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Cape Town - The basic education sector has faced a number of challenges at schools across the Western Cape, including violence, unplaced learners and rotational timetables.

SA Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary Jonovan Rustin said: “The biggest challenge we’ll face at the start of the year will be the issue of unplaced learners.

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“We have been having this year on year and have consistently called on the department to ensure that all learners are placed on the first day of school.

“We have seen violence in schools still being very prominent. We are saying to communities that schools should be safe havens, schools should not be vandalised,” Rustin said.

“We know that learners have lost out on a huge part of the curriculum and we are always going to play a catch up role, so, therefore, the provincial government needs to look at how do we extend wi-fi hot spots, especially to indigent communities and poor areas.”

Former South Peninsula High School principal and education commentator, Brian Isaacs said: “My biggest disappointment was the decision by the national government to appoint 280 000 teacher assistants from November 1 to March 31.

“Those employed receive R3 700 a month. Only qualification is a matric certificate. Schools of the poor need more qualified teachers in the classroom, not unqualified people.”

Rahima Essop, Zero-Dropout Campaign spokesperson, said drop-outs had increased this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Covid-19 school closures, with the economic shocks of lockdown, have amplified the disruptions that typically lead to drop-out. Higher than normal rates of non-attendance during the pandemic have largely not translated into permanent drop-out.”

However, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has said that 2021 was not as tough as expected and that next year they will focus on leadership and recovery.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “While 2020, from an outside perspective, was more tumultuous than 2021, it certainly did not decrease the pressure felt by many schools, and in some respects, made it harder for them to adjust to the ‘new normal’.

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“Teachers not only had to deal with the fall-out from learning losses, but also the continuous rotation of learners, further changes to the curriculum and disruption caused by the second, third and now the fourth wave.

“The task before us is immense and requires strong and directed leadership, supported by functional school management,” Hammond said.

“While our schools have shown much resilience during this pandemic, the learning losses, together with ongoing rotation, is a heavy burden to carry.

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“It is taking its toll, mentally, physically and emotionally. Hence the need to drive resilience and well-being, with the necessary support structures in place.”

For 2022, the WCED is prioritising: Foundation Phase learning; online/ blended/digital learning; well-being and psycho-social support.

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