EDITORIAL | Schools must go the distance before they reach full capacity
The drive to bring back all primary school pupils should not be done at all costs
Estimates suggest that most primary schoolchildren lost between 70% to a full year of learning since March last year. It is the same as saying the average grade 3 child in June 2021 has the same learning outcomes as the average grade 2 child in June 2019. In May 2021 the total number of seven- to 17-year-olds who had not attended school once this year was between 650,342 and 753,371.
These worrying statistics are contained in the latest National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS)-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM). It is against this backdrop that the move to bring back all primary school pupils and those attending special-needs schools on a full-time basis must be roundly applauded and welcomed.
Education experts agree that having pupils attend class on alternate days and even alternate weeks has been a disaster. Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has also expressed the strong desire to “curtail” rotational classes in primary schools “so that we can consolidate and give them the necessary foundation because if things go wrong, then it’s going to be very difficult to recover in later grades”. She acknowledged that “the damage happens in primary school and if we can’t save that, we have a big problem”...