Parliament, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 – A joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, today heard that schooling is likely to start incrementally as of 6 May 2020.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) told the committees that it plans to start schooling next week with Grade 12 and Grade 7 as they are the exit grades and also have less numbers. Grade 11 and Grade 6 will follow two weeks later on 20 May, followed by Grade 10 and Grade 5 on 3 June, Grade 9 and Grade 4 will follow on 17 June, Grade 8 and Grade 3 on 1 July, Grade 2 and Grade 1 on 8 July, and Grade R on 15 July. This will allow the country to get ready and most likely also lead the country to move to a lower level regarding the Covid-19 lockdown. This was, however, subject to guidance by the committees.
The committees expressed confidence in the plans presented to it. The Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, appreciated the work done by the DBE behind the scenes. “Please communicate so our people know what is happening. If there are changes, please inform the public. We are all stressed. But we need to work together. Even if our kids go back to school there will be challenges and our responsibility as MPs is to support and assist and report for those challenges to be rectified.”
The committees further heard that the June rewrite examinations for Grade 12 have been cancelled and will now occur together with the annual National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations at the end of the year. This has led to a drastic increase in the number of candidates that will sit for these exams, which in turn will lead to the release of the 2020 NSC results being postponed possibly to the third week in January 2021.
Furthermore, the June examinations for other grades will also not happen and will be used for schooling. The Winter school holidays in June will be reduced to one week and the Spring vacation in September will be reduce to a long weekend.
The committee commended the department for its efforts in getting the sector ready for the start of schooling next month. This includes providing masks to learners up to quintile 4 and to all teachers, a basic sanitation and hygiene package, mobile facilities to replace pit latrines, cleaners, screening, additional teaching posts as no classes should have more than 40 learners, additional substitute posts, provision of mobile classrooms to deal with overcrowding as a temporary measure, and incubation camps for progressed and weaker learners, especially in Grade 12.
Dr Reginah Mhaule, the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, said the curriculum for all grades, except Grade 12, will be reworked. All grades will just cover strategic topics in order for them to have knowledge of the content. Grade 12 papers are already set so extra effort will be put in. The implementation of the phasing in of schooling is an inter-departmental project and not just the DBE, as the Department of Health and the Department of Public Works were also involved. She said this presentation is made in order to get guidance from the committees and are not cast in stone.
Select Committee Chairperson, Mr Elleck Nchabeleng, commended the work done so far. He further called for the sharing of information on the continent so that all can survive the pandemic.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION, MS BONGIWE MBINQO-GIGABA, AND THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY, SPORTS, ARTS AND CULTURE, MR ELLECK NCHABELENG.