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City matric parents stress over children’s access to learning material


Matric revision under the lockdown is proving not only stressful to pupils but in many cases to their parents as well.

MATRIC revision under the lockdown is proving not only stressful to pupils but in many cases to their parents as well.

Due to the 21-day lockdown, the Northern Cape Department of Education has put contingency plans in place, such as the establishment of WhatsApp groups in each district for each subject, to allow pupils to access learning materials.

Other methods implemented by the department include podcasts, video snippets and e-learning platforms that pupils and parents can utilise in their own homes.

Most pupils in Kimberley have also received work to do at home from schools through WhatsApp and SMSes while the fortunate ones can also make use of DStv.

One of those parents who is stressed and worried about their matric child is a Lerato Park mother, who said on Friday that she appears to be panicking even more than her son.

“I feel guilty for not being able to help him more as our cellphone is not working and we don’t have access to DStv for him to get extra lessons.”

According to the mother, the coronavirus outbreak also means that it is not safe for her son to meet his classmates to do group work.

Her 17-year-old son explained that he felt as if his future was “hanging in the air”. He said that he had started off the academic year with good intentions and had been working hard and making use of as many resources as he could, including utilising the community library on a daily basis to access the internet.

“Our phone is not working properly and my mom bought me a new phone in December after I passed (Grade 11) but it was stolen,” he said while explaining his predicament.

According to the pupil, without a cellphone it is now a challenge for him to receive his homework and access old matric question papers on the internet.

He said that his classmates live quite a distance away from him and that his mother prohibits him from leaving the yard out of fear that he will be arrested for breaking the lockdown regulations.

“If there was no lockdown I would go to my classmate’s house to get updates on a daily basis of the homework; and ask his parents if I can watch the catch-up programmes that they record.”

“To us, having DStv is a dream that I can only fulfil once I finish school and get a job. 

Another city matric pupil said that she has been fortunate enough to access the study material through her parents’ cellphones, although she worries about the data costs.

“I must say, I try my utmost to use all opportunities possible by printing the question papers that are sent as homework. I also stick to the scheduled DStv channels, especially for the difficult subjects like mathematics, regardless of the fact that I have to compete for the screen with my younger brother,” she said.

She indicated that most of her teachers had availed themselves to address any further questions that pupils might have and where necessary to provide more clarity on lessons.

The pupil, however, feels bad that her parents will now have to spend even more money on data as one of her teachers recommended that they use Skype for oral work.

Her mother, while worried about the effect that the lockdown will have  on her daughter’s schooling, did however express satisfaction that her child is so focussed on her revision work.

“All we had to do was clarify with her that we are not prepared to spend too much on her tertiary studies if her matric results can only take her to study at a college. We will provide her with all the necessary support, including if there will be a need for a tutor,” said the mother.