Equal Education and EE Law Centre welcome full-time return to classrooms

Johannesburg- The decision to scrap rotational learning at schools has been welcomed by Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC).

But have called on the government to urgently fix systematic problems in schools and for them to ensure easy access to the Covid-19 vaccine for learners.

They said the last two years has had a devasting effect on the youth. Rotational learning, they said, negatively affects their access to school meals and to counselling, limits their interactions with friends and the ability to learn, as what was meant to be a temporary, emergency response to Covid-19, became the new normal.

“Learners at many well-resourced schools were able to return to classrooms full-time because they could comply with Covid-19 rules – while learners in most under-resourced schools, continued to miss out on class time because of overcrowded classrooms and a lack of access to toilets and water.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) estimates that 75% of learning was lost in 2020 as a result of interrupted and reduced learning time,” reads their statement

They said the Department of Basic Education as provincial education departments should act with urgency in addressing the lack of infrastructure that prevented full-time return in the first place, such as too few classrooms and toilets and that government should roll out vaccine literacy programmes at schools for learners who are older than 12 years, by maybe introducing vaccination pop-up sites at schools.

“We recognise that the virus is evolving. However, should there be more waves of infections, we encourage the DBE and Cabinet to only close schools as a last resort and to use its Risk-Adjusted Strategy (RAS) to ensure that teaching and learning can continue in schools in parts of the country where the community infection rates are low or at zero while allowing the same schools to later close when transmission in those communities becomes high. This will assist the department and schools to respond appropriately where there are peaks in infection rates, without risking the well-being of learners and teachers.”

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