Further disruptions to academic year will hinder pupils - Basic Education Dept

As the country edges closer to a COVID-19 third wave, there are growing calls for more stringent regulations to be imposed, among them, the closure of schools. But the department's Elijah Mhlanga said that this would be damaging to pupils who were already playing catch-up.

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CAPE TOWN - School pupils should not have to bear the brunt for adults and parents who were spreading the coronavirus.

This was the view of the Department of Basic Education, as the country edged closer to a COVID-19 third wave.

There are growing calls for more stringent regulations to be imposed, among them, the closure of schools.

But the department's Elijah Mhlanga said that this would be damaging to pupils who were already playing catch-up with their workload.

"There is no understanding of the burden of having to bring children back to school, get their mental framework back on track for them to learn again. Already we've been limping from day to day because of the alternative approach that we are using since schools opened in June last year."

He said that the rising rate in infections remained a major concern and that this was not the fault of learners.

"We are all concerned about the community infections but we understand why the third wave is happening - it's because we are giving it legs. People are behaving as if the coronavirus is gone. The third wave is not some medical wave that just erupts from somewhere. It is manufactured by people through social gatherings, which must stop."

Mhlanga said that further disruptions to the academic year would only hinder the learning process for pupils.

"Some of them are becoming over age, they are going to repeat grades right now. In the next few years, they will be over age, they will not be able to access education, they will not be able to access employment because their age is running faster than their education can catch up. So right now, we have a massive catastrophe on our hands."

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