Bad news for rural pupils as Motshekga unpacks lockdown plan for schools

26 March 2020 - 16:15 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga concedes that some children will be left behind.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga concedes that some children will be left behind.
Image: Gallo Images

Rural schools pupils will be left in limbo by the interventions the department of education will implement to “save the year” during the lockdown, most of which will be done through information and communications technology (ICT) platforms.

That's according to basic education minister Angie Motshekga, who said it was “out of our control” that some rural pupils did not have access to television and the internet.

Motshekga announced that learning and teaching would continue during lockdown via lessons broadcast on television, radio and online.

She was briefing the media in Pretoria on Thursday about her department's plan for the lockdown.

She was well aware that some pupils did not have access to any of these tools and were bound to be left behind, but there was nothing the department could do.

The basic education department held a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday to address key points around how the #SAlockdown will affect the academic year. Minister Angie Motshekga addressed broad issues around how the basic education system will recover from the blow caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the 21-day lockdown

Even for pupils with access to radio in some rural areas, Motshekga was aware that grandparents sometimes hogged it for their own listening, which would deliver a devastating blow to scholars.

“We may be accused of perpetuating inequalities but unfortunately is out of our control,” said Motshekga. “For instance, other schools have already dealt with term one of 2020 in 2019, that is not in our control.

“You will find that those with access with ICT have already gone past that [curriculum for term one]. But those are things we are not in control of, we are looking at doing things we are in control of,” she added.

“The only things we can vouch for is programmes which happen through the ICT platforms.

“When schools closed on March 18 I requested provinces to distribute learning material to children in rural areas. Whether it happened fully I do not know and we have not evaluated.

“I really hope that it does not sound insensitive but it is the honest truth.”

Motshekga said the department could not be blamed for the inequalities that will be brought about because children will be learning from home.

She added that her department was not responsible for pupils outside schools.

“Outside the schoolyard we do not have control at all,” said Motshekga.

“If we say people must use ICT platforms, some households have eight schoolgoing kids who must take turns watching and listening to the lessons.

“It (ICT) is not something you can guarantee will work effectively. But our recovery plan is informed by that which we can do.”