What Curriculum Hardships Mean For The Class of 2021

Rotational attendance and early school closures reflect the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the country's education system. Nicky Roberts from the University of Johannesburg breaks down what this means for the class of 2021.




The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on schooling in the country. Schools have had to close early, while pupils have attended classes on a rotational basis.

Nicky Roberts from the University of Johannesburg says that the matric class of 2021 seems to be in a worse position compared to the class of 2020. 

She says that precarious position is reflected by a variety of factors, which include the decline of the matric pass rate by 5% last year, pupils not having sat for grade 11 final exams and a trimmed curriculum in addition to having their June exams cancelled.

Roberts further states that they need as much support as they can get, particularly now that some of them are currently writing their trial examinations. 

They are facing admission into university using their school-based assessments and we know that school-based assessments are unreliable. So that also impacts on them after a hugely disruptive year last year.

An additional hurdle for them to consider is that despite having missed their grade 11 final exam, They have also had to rely on their unstandardized Grade 11 results for entry into university.

According to Roberts, this could potentially result in some of them being anxious about which courses they gain access to or having to worry about when their conditional acceptance will come through.

On whether there may be some form of compromise on the part of tertiary institutions for these matriculants, Roberts says that there has been no indication that there may be some form of concession for the impacted learners.

I think the situation is very much that everyone is in the same boat, so all of the grade 11s have faced the same thing. I don't think that's entirely true. Obviously, those with means have had a far better experience and far easier shift into remote learning. So we have widening inequality.

She says that in terms of entry requirements, universities are employing the exact same metrics as prior to the pandemic period. 

One of her main concerns, however, is the rotational attendance that still applies among Grade 8 and Grade 9 learners. She says that although matric learners are being prioritized, there should be as much support and resources placed on those critical transitional years into high school.


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