Education Department Warns Against Social Distancing Rule

The Western Cape Education Department has warned the national government that the majority of its primary school learners might not be able to return to class under the current social-distancing regulations. Its education MEC has further explained how rotational attendance will affect the education system in the long term.


The Western Cape Education Department is calling on the National Department of Education to scrap the one-metre social distancing rule that is currently in place in schools across the country.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the MEC for Education, Debbie Schäfer says that the current restrictions will keep pupils in most primary schools from resuming school attendance on a full-time basis.

At this stage, approximately only 12% of our primary schools can comply with these directions. That means that approximately 88% of our primary schools are attending school on a rotational basis, despite efforts to revert to full attendance.

According to the MEC, the measures that are currently in place will only worsen the learning losses incurred in the previous school. She adds that this is likely to have a more devastating impact on non-fee schools.  

There is strong and mounting evidence to suggest that the learning losses our young people are suffering are devastating and will have long term negative consequences.

The call to end rotational attendance has also been echoed by other education experts such as Nic Spaull from Stellenbosch University, who stated that its continued implementation could result in a “lost generation” of learners.

According to Spaull, projections show that the average grade 3 child in June 2021 knows the same as the average Grade 2 child of 2019. 

The WCED has also cited the inability of learners to access the feeding programme as often as they should due to rotational attendance as a contributor to a higher dropout rate.

During her press briefing on Tuesday, Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga stated that the Department is exploring the possibility to return school attendance to normal, but that it would have to be done responsibly.

Read: Full Statement 


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