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Limpopo teacher laments e-learning as pupils 'climb rocks to find cell network'

23 April 2020 - 06:00 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Teaching remotely during the lockdown is proving a challenge in poor communities.
Teaching remotely during the lockdown is proving a challenge in poor communities.
Image: 123RF/ANDRIY

High school teacher Pabalelo Mphahlele is worried about her pupils in Limpopo.

“Most of my learners don’t have access to computers or smartphones, which makes it hard to learn via e-learning,” she told TimesLIVE.

“Another thing is I work in the rural areas of Sekhukhune, where ... you have to go outside the gate and climb the rocks just to make a call. The network is a problem, which is why e-learning won't work for learners from my school.”

Mphahlele created a WhatsApp group for her grade 12 class, but only five out of 22 pupils participate.

“When you ask them the reason for not being active, they say they don’t have data. Even if they do have data, they’re just not motivated enough to participate and study on their own,” she said.

“I’m worried because I know they are not capable of studying on their own. I also know their parents are not actively involved in their studies.”

A teacher from Umkhumbane Secondary School in Durban said Covid-19 has thrown up  a fresh set of challenges for him and his pupils.

Siyanda Thabede said the blend of home schooling and distance learning was not easy for township pupils, predominantly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“In instances where learners do have phones, data becomes a problem. Where data is not a problem, storage capacity of devices becomes a problem because learners have to study all subjects using WhatsApp,” he said.

“In terms of the necessary resource inputs necessary for effective teaching and learning, it is a major challenge.”

Thabede said they were instructed to download an app called Classdojo, where they get various activities.

“As teachers we have conceded, given the challenges, that we will mainly interact with learners via voice notes. There are obvious adverse implications on our effectiveness, but we have come to realise that we have to make do with what we have,” he said.

“We find ourselves in uncharted territory, where we have to embrace the use of phones as an important resource like never before.

“Another change has to do with reprimanding learners and checking their progress on work coverage,” he added.