'Discontinue 2020 academic year': survey of parents and pupils

07 July 2020 - 16:40 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
A survey has found that most parents and pupils believe the academic year should be restarted in 2021.
A survey has found that most parents and pupils believe the academic year should be restarted in 2021.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Having lost a significant portion of the school year to the lockdown, many parents and pupils believe the school year should be repeated in 2021.

This is according to an Ask Afrika survey. The market research company conducted a survey to track and assess public confidence in political leaders during Covid-19.

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga was rated low by participants in terms of their confidence levels, particularly around the on-again-off-again reopening of schools.

“In week 13, results show that minister Motshekga’s trust levels are at 48%, lower than others in the core group of Covid-19 ministers measured. Only 54% of South Africans who participated in the research agreed that she is authentic, transparent and rigorous in her dealings with the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s education system. 

“Most parents support the gradual phasing in of certain school grades, agreeing this is the best way to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Concerns about the reopening of schools increased during advanced level 3,” the survey found.

With more parents returning to work full time, more than 60% of respondents said they were concerned about leaving their children at home without proper care. A total of 39% of respondents believe crèche or childcare facilities should open their doors to cater for parents who have to return to work.

“Having lost a significant portion of the school year to the lockdown, 68% of parents and pupils believe the school year should be repeated in 2021. Youth aged 16 to 24 years feel even more strongly about this, with 71% arguing that the pandemic cost too much time and that the school year should be repeated.

“There is particular concern around the matriculants of 2020 and their ability to successfully complete their grade 12 year, given the amount of lost teaching days.

"Most respondents agree the academic year should be repeated. A total of 63% of respondents believe the current academic year should be cancelled, while an overwhelming 72% believe the start of the 2021 academic year will be delayed,” the survey found.

Township residents said they were less confident than suburban residents about schools reopening.

According to the study, 46% of township residents are concerned about schools going back compared to only 39% of suburban residents. The concerns of township residents are perhaps rooted in the fact that only half of township residents have access to online learning tools.   

The youth are more concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment than older generations, with 45% saying they are not confident that there will be enough masks and sanitation equipment compared to only 36% of the older generation sharing this view.

As far as tertiary education institutions are concerned, most respondents – or 73% - agree that the disruption caused by the pandemic will have a ripple effect on higher education. A total of 74% of respondents believe universities should invest more in distance learning while 72% say universities should prepare resilience strategies for the post-coronavirus era.   


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