School Classes Not Big Enough To Accommodate All Learners Safely

Pupils

The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa says overcrowding at schools is a major contributing factor to the rising numbers of Covid-19 school infections.

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The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) has expressed concerns regarding overcrowding in schools and says that it is among the leading causes of rising Covid infections.

Naptosa President, Nkosiphendule Ntantala, says that they had raised this concern shortly after it was announced that primary schools would be returning to daily attendance at full capacity.

In response, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) promised to supply mobile classrooms to the schools that were impacted by the unrest that happened last month.

We now have witnessed that despite the science, there have been rising infections in primary school children. Our members are telling us that they have had to close schools time and again as a result of infection numbers going up. 

Ntantala also points out that having teachers vaccinated does not necessarily mean that they are immune from being infected, but that the inoculations make them less vulnerable in terms of being able to resist the virus.

In terms of issues with social distancing, Ntantala says that through discussions held with DBE, they have reached an understanding that primary schools that are unable to have learners return at full capacity will have to return to attendance on a rotational basis. 

In fact, we are emphasizing that no school must attempt to not observe the one-metre social distancing that has been approved by the ministerial advisory committee. We are saying, yes we recognize that there are learning losses, but the health and safety of learners and teachers takes precedence in this regard.

He also admits that this year's school curriculum has been affected to such an extent that learners, who progressed from grade 11 last year have had to catch up with what was covered in the 2020 grade 11 syllabus while they are also required to complete the current year's grade 12 syllabus.

We have been calling for a focus on those learning elements that are critical for every grade, saying that perhaps this is what we should consider covering for the year so that we don't put the entire system under enormous pressure to have to complete a syllabus for the year.

He adds that going forward, the department of education should consider teaching for examinations since the current system is geared in a way that prepares learners for writing examinations.

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