The minister of basic education (DBE) Angie Motshekga has slammed rumours that schools will only re-open in September. She labelled this information fake news and declared that it should be ignored.
Speaking during a briefing regarding the “extra-ordinary and creative ways” the department has come up with to assist and support learners and parents to recover schooling time lost during the lockdown period, Motshekga said the date for re-opening the schools will be communicated once the lockdown is lifted.
Motshekga said the re-opening of schools will depend on the cooperation of citizens during the lockdown.
She also asked the public to ignore any info that did not officially come from the DBE and to “dismiss it with the contempt it deserves”.
The previously estimated 10-days that would have been lost by the school holidays being moved up has now increased to a currently unknown amount of days due to the lockdown. Before the period was announced, schools were supposed to open on April 14.
“Since the schools were closed on Wednesday [18 March] we have had a series of consultations with the provincial departments of education to identify ways in which we can ensure that our children are better informed about Covid-19, they are engaged, and continue their education in their homes,” said Motshekga.
“Following the announcement of the lock-down by the President, CEM has agreed to focus on a catch-up programme our efforts to the promotion of learning and teaching in homes, and to the preparation for catch-up when the children come back to schools.”
The minister urged parents to not leave learners unattended and advised them to watch for signs of depression, provide ongoing support and to address any anxiety they may have at this time.
“Together with provinces DBE has prepared online and broadcast support resources comprising subject content and a focus on Grade 12 learners and the promotion of reading for all the grades. Some of the programmes will be available from April 1,” added Motshekga.
The department, which is working closely with key partners, will make the following resources available:
- Broadcast lessons working with the SABC TV and Radio
- DStv channel 180
- e.tv has allocated a dedicated channel for three months on the Openview platform
- Broadcast of lessons on community radio stations around the country
- Electronic readers available via all platforms in partnership with Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell-C
- 2Enable App as a freely downloadable educational platform with more than 2,000 electronic readers in the indigenous languages
- Promote the African Storybook series through the 2Enable App
- The National Reading Coalition has identified extensive lists of additional resources and organisations that are willing to make their materials available
- Free access to Siyavula Maths and Science support in partnership with MTN
- Free access to the Vodacom Virtual Classroom
The DBE website (www.education.gov.za) has also been updated with current and relevant content inclusive of reading resources and websites.
Schedule for the broadcast of lessons is also available on DBE website and its social media platforms.
The minister urged guardians and parents to make use of their content so as not to confuse learners with content from too many different places.
Additional content which has been made available by DBE partners will be published on the department’s website for ease of access.
Motshekga also called on those who raised learners with special education needs to get in touch with the department online should the need arise.
Regarding the issue of the school nutrition programme and those who would no longer have access to the food they relied on from schools, Motshekga said they would have to turn to the department of social development, who would now become responsible for providing food to communities during this time.
“Nutrition support will be provided to families in the poverty nodes which are operated by social development. The thinking is that one member of the family will be allowed to collect food parcel once a week during the three weeks for the use of the entire family.
“This is to ensure social distancing. Several partners are willing to support this initiative and they include Tiger Brands, Nestle, Pioneer, Old Mutual, First Rand and Add Hope Foundation.”
According to her, the DBE cannot run feeding schemes during the lockdown as it would be “mission impossible” to track 9.6 million children that the department feeds through its nutrition programme. She confirmed that some children had already even left the province once the extended holidays were announced.