Many schools not ready to return to teaching

Many schools not ready to return to teaching.
Many schools not ready to return to teaching.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

There is still a low level of readiness in schools across eight provinces ahead of the return to classrooms of the next group of pupils on Monday next week.

A national school readiness survey has revealed that a number of schools were experiencing a combination of challenges in preparations for next week’s reopening.

The survey was conducted by five recognised teacher unions, which include the Professional Education Union (PEU), National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa), South African Democratic  Teachers  Union (Sadtu), South African Teachers Union (SAOU) and National Teachers Union (Natu). 

It was conducted on August 11 and was sent to all teacher union members. It has been released a week before the return of pupils for grades R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9,10 and 11. The survey revealed that KwaZulu-Natal was lagging behind when it comes to school readiness.

Eastern Cape and Limpopo also scored less than 50% in terms of readiness to manage teaching to the returning grades. The survey showed that subject teams or phase teams from most schools in KZN and Eastern Cape had not met to review the curriculum guidance received from national and provincial departments for the returning grades.

The two provinces also had a number of schools that had not yet produced a timetable that would allow a 1.5m distance between pupils in the classroom when the next grades return.

About 77% of schools nationally had received sufficient quantities of face masks, but only 12% of schools in KZN had sufficient quantities of masks delivered to schools.

According to the survey, the returning pupils will face a low level of readiness to sanitise surfaces several times a day and this varies from 50% to 80% across eight provinces.

Although most schools will rotate weekly or daily, about 6% of schools nationally had not been able to draft timetables as a result of not having enough teachers.

“Five percent had not been able to map a timetable because of classroom constraints and 11% of schools were struggling to construct a timetable because of constraints of space and teacher availability,” according to the survey.

The survey states that there were 62% of schools that offer grade 12 that were confident they will have covered the necessary content before the matric exams start on November 15. Most schools reported that they were also increased administrative and teaching load as well as a lack of support.

“A critical issue is the high percentage of learners with whom schools have lost contact since the lockdown. In schools that are dependent on school fees, there were serious problems of functionality that may have long-term consequences for school viability, including payment of rates, lights and water and the payment of staff salaries,” according to the survey’s evaluation.

Department of basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the council of education ministers would provide a briefing on the state of readiness soon and all the issues affecting the reopening of schools would be addressed in detail.

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