It was to be expected that President Cyril Ramaphosa will ease down some of the lockdown measures in order to partially open up economic activities. Ramaphosa announced that the country will be going into level 4 of the lockdown measures next month, with limited economic activities under strict guideline expected to resume. The President admitted that ” there is no company that does not want to re-open and there is no student who does not want to return to their studies.”
Major universities such as Wits and the University of Johannesburg on the other hand have since gone the e-learning route. It is expected that many tertiary institutions will also have to roll-out online classes in a bid to salvage this year’s academic year that’s been dealt a major blow. However, there’s been silence on the basic education front.
It is almost two months since schools were forced to shut down and still no word on when will learners return back to their classes. Mass gatherings continue to be high up on the forbidden list, meaning it will be very difficult for schools to resume anytime soon. While this is understandable in the fight to flatten the curve and protect our young ones from being infected with this deadly virus, the Basic Education department must come up with a solid plan to ensure that the class of 2020 matriculants are back in school.
Many of them, especially those who live in rural areas and townships have been idling at home struggling to study on their own. Instead of allowing every learner back at school, the government should consider allowing matriculants to return back to class. They can divide them into sizable numbers into different classes to ensure that there’s adherence to the regulations.
Failure to salvage the 2020 school year, especially for matriculants will have dire consequences for our education sector. Tertiary institutions have done their part in making sure that they will be space next year by going the online route, it is now up to the government to allow the matriculants to finish their final year.
The vagueness of Ramaphosa in addressing the issue of education in his speech is worrisome. One just hopes that the Minister of Basic Education and Higher Education will provide clarity on this important matter concerning the future of this country.