Staffing and spacing is the biggest challenge that will face the public education sector when schools welcome all learners.
When learners come back we won’t have enough space to ensure physical distancing so we are going to have to use differentiated timetables which are going to be either daily rotations because we can’t all be here at the same time every day, there won’t be enough space for all of them to safely distance,” said the Minister.
To manage the challenge of space, Motshekga said schools will implement a rotational timetable to allow for adequate social distancing in line with the recommended health protocols.
Maintaining that the reopening of schools remains the best decision, the Minister said it would have been catastrophic to cancel the academic year completely.
“For me it is even catastrophic as it is to have kids who have no access to reading materials and ICTS sitting at home since March up to now they have not gone to school.”
“For me it is a disaster as even next year when we have trimmed the curriculum we will still not be able to claw back what we have lost,” she said.
Department claws back lost teaching time
In order to make up for the lost teaching time, the department has trimmed the curriculum nationally. Parts of the 2020 curriculum will be carried over into 2021.
“What we have done for the internal grades is to take parts of the curriculum of 2020 into the 2021 so we are going to only teach and assess them on only 70% of the curriculum.”
“We are not going to dump the work we missed, we are going to factor it into 2021,” said Motshekga.
Having carried over parts of the 2020 curriculum into 2021, the Minster said it is unlikely that schools would be able to complete the 2021 curriculum.
“So it is going to be a three-year programme to see if we can claw back what we have lost. Every school is looking at its own situation with the curriculum, and what are some of the available resources.”
“What remains for the Grade 12 is that their paper has been set. They are writing a paper that has been set since two years ago. Because the cycle for the paper is 18 months”
“That is why we pushed the exam to December and we are not giving them a break to allow them to finish,” she said.
By pushing back the 2020 Grade 12 examinations to conclude by 15 December, they would have made up the lost time due to the pandemic.