Home Opinion and Features Covid pandemic could result in the emergence of different kinds of schools

Covid pandemic could result in the emergence of different kinds of schools

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Education expert says home-schooling will not be the world order as parents, even those not registered for home-schooling, are finding new and creative ways to assist their children.

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THE DEPARTMENT of Basic Education (DBE) said it has introduced a web-based content platform which has interactive multimedia content in the form of lessons, videos, animations and assessment activities.

Pupils and parents can self-register and get access to supplementary curriculum materials to support learning.

But according to an education expert at Wits University, the Covid-19 pandemic will see the emergence of different kinds of schools.

Professor Brahm Fleisch said home-schooling will not be the world order as parents, even those not registered for home-schooling, are finding new and creative ways to assist their children.

“I am seeing the rise of pod schools, where there are between five and six learners per class. Home-schooling is not a choice for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Some children flourish, but not all,” said Fleisch.

The SA Homeschoolers Organisation said its numbers have grown from about 100,000 when it started in 2018 to about 150,000 in 2020.

Spokesperson for the organisation, Bouwe van der Eems, said some South African home-school organisations experienced a 100% growth during the pandemic in 2020, and if this growth is a reflection of the total number of home learners, it means that there could be about 300,000 home learners at the beginning of 2021.

“As the schools reopen and the fear about the pandemic subsides, there might be a slight reduction of numbers in 2021, however, the longer the schools remain closed, the more children will remain home on a permanent basis.There are, however, concerns that conflict between home-schooling families and government will increase in the coming years,” he said.

According to Van der Eems, the government is considering legislation that will restrict the rights of parents to choose an education that is in the best interest of their children.

“When it becomes clear that many places in schools will not be filled again, after the pandemic unions would start applying pressure to get more children to return to school.”

But despite the controversy around the reopening of schools, the organisation said every child learns a little differently and being able to tailor the home-school curriculum to the needs of each child is a huge advantage.

“Children do not have to worry about the fact they do not understand something and cannot get the classroom time to have it explained. In your home-school you can spend as much time as is necessary on a topic in order to master it. This creates a more complete education and allows for better recall.

“In addition to this, the severe stress that many schoolgoing children face is significantly lessened as the home-educated child is not forced to conform to the schedule of the school and can learn at his/her own pace,” said Van der Eems.

But home-schooling comes at great costs to the parents, not just financially but in terms of their time.

“Parents take on the full responsibility for the education of their children and dealing with self-doubt can be a challenge. There is no school teacher to blame if there are shortcomings.

“In practise parents are still responsible for their children’s education even if they are in a public school and even school education has shortcomings,” said Van der Eems.

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