The Covid-19 pandemic has left lasting effects on the education system in South Africa due to all the disruptions it has caused during the academic year.
A study done by the Telkom Foundation now shows that the pandemic has had a negative impact on school learners in the maths and science subjects.
Senior CSI manager of the Telkom Foundation, Nathi Kunene says that they have been monitoring the learners' maths and science marks since grade 8.
"We have been working with these learners since grade 8 and moving with them and the first cohort is currently in grade 12. We have been looking at their Maths and Science subjects, as we support those," he said.
Kunene says that Telkom's goal is to support learners and unemployed youth by providing them with access to digital skills which will prepare them for the future world of work in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space. This is as the world of work moves towards digital platforms and online spaces.
"We make sure learners are prepared, and not being trained for the economy we have let go."-Senior CSI manager of the Telkom Foundation, Nathi Kunene.
The learners who have been studied were found to be two or three grades behind in Maths and Science than where they were supposed to be. Kunene says that Covid-19 has not been the sole cause for this but that it has worsened the issue that had existed before in terms of the Maths and Science subjects.
CEO of the Telkom Foundation, Sarah Mthintso says that they have seen the negative impact that the pandemic and the unavoidable school closures has had on learning.
“Covid-19 has exposed a challenging and unequal education system,” said Mthintso, “and this exacerbated existing stark inequalities in South Africa.”
Kunene said that when they first started working with the learners, the Foundation found that they had a content gap.
The Foundation then focused on grade-level and remedial approaches to close these gaps.
The Grade 9 learners who were surveyed showed an improvement from a Grade 3 level understanding to a Grade 5 level before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"What we have seen is that learners who have not been getting the face-to-face learning time at their schools started regressing," says Kunene.
This reduced face-to-face learning time has lead to learners understanding less and this has lead to their marks dropping.
CEO, Mthintso says that if managed properly, the introduction of technology in the classroom could help teachers by adapting and modifying their teaching styles so that they can meet the needs of the individual learners.
"It also could support social interaction, memory development, critical thinking and the ability to work through difficult concepts together," she said.
Mthintso says that it is important that the teacher is empowered to implement this properly because if they are not then "learners could be left behind without anyone noticing.”