Education Dept Could've Handled Pandemic Better - Unions

Learners

Unions within the education sector have expressed a great deal of concern following Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga's briefing on the impact of Covid-19 on schooling throughout the country on Sunday. They say they are not surprised by the current outcome of learning losses as the department could have taken better preventative measures.

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The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Teachers' Union (Natu) have expressed their concerns after Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, revealed that schools in poorer communities and rural areas were the worst affected by the learning losses suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Motshekga was speaking during a briefing in which she gave an update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on school learning.

Sadtu's deputy general secretary, Nkosana Dolopi, said that although they are concerned about the outcome of learning losses in schools, particularly those in rural areas, they are not surprised because these are issues they raised with the department before the situation got worse.

He adds that the impact of Covid-19 would not have been as bad if the Education Department had headed there to hire more teachers as an answer to the issue of overcrowding in schools.

Its a question of leaders not having what they were always asked to do, which is to cut down on the number of learners at our rural and township schools, deal with overcrowding and if they did that a long time ago all learners would have been at school without following a rotational timetable.

Motshekga met with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) on Friday and considered input from stakeholders, after which it was decided that the department will not scrap the October holidays.

On the issue of the department opting to not scrap the third term holidays, he says that it would not have made a notable difference in making up for the learning losses incurred during 2020 and the decision would have merely resulted in learners and teachers being overworked.

Acting President of the National Teachers' Union, Sibusiso Malinga, also agreed with Dolopi and added that the department should instead double down on its efforts to put systems in place to prevent the current situation from worsening as it seems likely that Covid-19 might be a long term problem.

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