Full-time return to school raises concerns of economic impact on poor households

For many children from poor households, it will be difficult to re-budget for the extra costs involved in full-time learning.

For many children from poor households, it will be difficult to re-budget for the extra costs involved in full-time learning. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - While the relaxing of social distancing regulations in schools has been widely welcomed, there are worries about the impact this will have on the pockets of the poor and working-class now that pupils will be returning to school full-time.

Government has announced adjustments to the COVID-19 regulations which include the scrapping of rotational learning.

In some public schools, there just isn't enough space to social distance but Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has been inspecting infrastructure over the past few weeks to advise on what changes need to be made.

For many children from poor households, it will be difficult to re-budget for the extra costs involved in full-time learning.

Extras like additional transport fees, extra activities at schools and other expenses will need to be counted into already tight budgets.

Added to this, the price of petrol is going up at the stroke of midnight.

But teachers know this and Naptosa's Basil Manuel said that this needed to be taken into account.

"You don't have to do a great adjustment because the rotational learning has also meant that the spend on social things, suddenly that has doubled overnight," Manuel said.

Marilyn Bassin is the founder of Boikanyo, the Dion Herson Foundation. She works closely with rural communities.

She said that at least some children would now get a decent meal at school, five days a week.

"Some of the kids that I work with actually only go to school for the meals because things are so bad at home that juts to know somewhere you can get fed," Bassin said.

While it might be difficult for households and children to adjust to the new regulations now, the long-term impact of having better quality education should benefit households in the long run.