Learners in South African schools are a year behind due to the many changes brought about by the pandemic. Unicef has said that 40% of all learners across Southern and Eastern Africa are not in schools because of Covid-19.
Unicef's Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Lieke van de Wiel, said that it's a very concerning situation:
We're one year in and things are not moving forward, not looking upward when it comes to school openings so that means that a large group of kids, it's 40% overall, have not been in school continuously this last year.
She further said that there are many learners who have been out of school for hundreds of days in the space of a year. Putting a figure to it, van de Wiel says there are 69 million learners who are not at school.
32 million is directly Covid-related while the rest are not at school for reasons that existed before the pandemic and continue.
Even though schools have introduced online learning, it just isn't sustainable and a reality for a lot of learners in South Africa.
"It doesn't sufficiently reach enough kids and even if you reach them, they don't do the learning that you normally have in school, social interaction with your peers and emotional learning, it's being lost."
That impact on the individual level is significant. The kids are less happy. They are not developing as they should.
Another aspect to consider is the relation of schools and incomes with van de Wiel explaining that every year of school, you have a 10% increase in what your future salary would be. Learners not being in school directly impacts their future earnings.
Children are also missing out on the building blocks which are made while being at school and these have now been lost.
Schools reopened for the third term on 26 July after the President announced an early start to the winter break. A week of learning was then lost and is likely to impact the sector along with learners.