Home South African #NotInMyName SA calls for school closures until level 2 as Covid-19 infections...

#NotInMyName SA calls for school closures until level 2 as Covid-19 infections surge

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“#NotInMyName is empirically informed that there is no scientific evidence to support the speed at which the National Command Council wants to keep schools open.

#NotInMyName South Africa secretary-general, Themba Masango. File Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency

Pretoria – The South African chapter of civil rights movement #NotInMyName on Wednesday called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to close down schools amid rising coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. 

“#NotInMyName is empirically informed that there is no scientific evidence to support the speed at which the National Command Council wants to keep schools open. 

“Instead, there is evidence which supports the hypothesis that children will be safer if they just did not go to school,” said secretary-general Themba Masango. 

He said studies conducted by teacher unions, governing bodies and civil rights organisations showed that water tanks were yet to be delivered to numerous schools without running water, while some schools were yet to receive mobile classes to manage the number of students and adhere to the Disaster Management Act. 

Masango pointed out that several schools had to close their doors again after the first round of school management teams and some learners contracted Covid-19. 

“Teaching and support staff are yet to be inducted according to the ‘new normal’. There will be no statistically significant change that will occur during the week to ensure that the above mentioned challenges are addressed,” said Masango. 

“Therefore, “#NotInMyName proposes that schools should open during level 2 of the national lockdown provided that all schools meet the requirements which ensure the safety of our future leaders.” 

On Tuesday, a campaigner for online learning in South Africa, Janessa Urquhart, said contact-less teaching was the solution as South Africa entered what has been described by president Cyril Ramaphosa as “a storm” of Covid-19 infections.

Urquhart runs online lessons at Think Digital College, which is promoted as South Africa’s first virtual school, offering both the CAPS and Cambridge curricula from Grade R to Grade 12. 

The college, headquartered in Pretoria, has been offering online classes to thousands of learners across the country for several years.  

“There are signs suggesting that Covid-19’s disruption of the education sector could have a lasting impact on the way we teach and learn.

“Our current education model is very much top-down in its approach, where a teacher instructs and provides information, usually only utilising one teaching modality. Yet educational psychologists have always contended that children learned best when they constructed their own knowledge and learnt tasks that are culturally relevant,” she said. 

“The spread of Covid-19, and the closure of schools has become a catalyst for change, forcing us to look for innovative ways for our children to continue their schooling. Educationalists, government and the business sector have come together to utilise digital platforms for teaching and learning. 

“These platforms are opening the doors to more flexible and interactive ways of learning, where the learner takes ownership of their educational experience, working at their own pace and engaging with the learning material.” 

She said South Africa’s education sector has been ripe for change and now needs to quickly adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. 

“The use of digital platforms to replace the classroom means that the quality of learning is dependent on the level and quality of digital access. 

“Unless data costs decrease and access to digital platforms increases, a vast number of our learners will not be able to benefit from this educational paradigm shift,” she said.

Some parents, education stakeholders and principals have amplified calls for the department of basic education to reconsider the decision to reopen schools.

African News Agency (ANA)