Home South African High-school maths and science results drop due to pandemic

High-school maths and science results drop due to pandemic

girl writing an exam.
THE Telkom Foundation study found that high-school maths and science are dropping as a result of the pandemic. Photo by Michael Walker

The Telkom Foundation study found that high-school maths and science are dropping as a result of the pandemic

LACK of face-to-face learning due to the pandemic has resulted in a decline in high-school maths and science marks. This is according to findings presented by the Telkom Foundation in its study.

The Telkom Foundation says it has been monitoring data from schools it supports across the country since 2018, says chief executive Sarah Mthintso.

“We have seen the negative impact of the pandemic – and the unavoidable closure of schools – has had on learning,” Mthintso says.

According to the World Bank, school closures affected 1.6 billion learners. South Africa is one of the countries which had school closure disruptions due to the pandemic.

The Telkom Foundation said its initial diagnostic assessments conducted with learners in Grade 9 found that several learners had deficiencies in especially Maths and Science, many of which were carried from the intermediate phase at primary school, impacting their ability to excel in these subjects.

This meant that the foundation had to focus on grade-level and remedial approaches to close the gaps.

The Grade 9 learners surveyed showed an improvement from a Grade 3 level understanding to a Grade 5 level before the impact of the Covid pandemic.

“Over the years, we have seen learner improvement as a result of this targeted hybrid approach, however with Covid-19 restrictions and learners missing contact learning time some have regressed in key areas, particularly problem-solving algebra and measurement,” Mthintso said.

Graph showing decline in math and science marks. Supplied

Mthintso said the pandemic exposed challenges that were already existing such as inequality as well as the access to digital resources.

A teacher from MH Baloyi Secondary School said; “We didn’t realise how much we didn’t know about remote learning until you had to do it for the first time. This meant learning new online skills overnight.”

Mthintso said if managed properly, the introduction of technology in the classroom could allow teachers to adapt and modify their teaching styles to accommodate the needs of individual pupils.

“It also could support social interaction, memory development, critical thinking and the ability to work through difficult concepts together. If the teacher is not empowered to do this properly, there is a risk that learners could be left behind without anyone noticing,” she said.

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