Safety, learning losses and shortage of teachers are among the more pressing challenges that the basic education sector currently faces. Speaking on behalf of the Gauteng Provincial Education department, MEC Panyaza Lesufi says that these are difficult issues.
On the issue of safety in schools, Lesufi calls upon institutions that have the capacity and mandate to protect schools to take up the task of doing so as the education sector does not have adequate resources to provide protection.
If you're going to take resources that are meant to educate our children and spread them to ensure that there are security guards with weapons and metal detectors we will likely lose focus of our mandate. That is why we feel that those that have that mandate should provide support.
The MEC does however point out that, in terms of learning losses, the sector is facing a dire situation and says that rotational attendance is bound to have more of a negative impact on the sector in the long term. He also says that it may be time for the Education Minister to reinstate full-time attendance for secondary schools.
The MEC also says that it may be time for the National Corona Virus Command Council to consider reducing the stipulated one-metre social distancing in school. He adds that this has greatly limited the number of pupils the provincial department has been able to bring back to school.
Even though the minister took the decision that children can come back, In Gauteng out of the almost 1400 primary schools that needed to bring back all their children, almost half could not bring back all their learners. They are still rotating due to lack of space and overcrowding.
Lesufi also points out that although they anticipated overall learning losses of about three years, a report published last indicates that number to be five years.
Because of this, the MEC has said that the sector needs to focus more on the recovery side of things as the country cannot afford any more learning losses.
He adds that this can be achieved by fast-tracking the recruitment of educators and teaching assistants and also by expanding the scope of learners who are attending school.