JONATHAN JANSEN | Covid-19 lessons we must heed, lest we miss a once-in-a-generation chance

These insights have given us an opportunity to re-evaluate SA’s education system for the better

03 February 2021 - 19:53

The pandemic is, hopefully, almost behind us. With the arrival of the first consignment of vaccines and the encouraging drop in the positivity rate to below 10% (9.15%), it is time to plan for a post-Covid-19 world. Reading and listening to the stories of how teachers experienced 2020, it is now possible to extract at least seven hard lessons from pandemic teaching for the future design of instruction and learning in SA.

One, we learnt that teachers are much more effective and pupils much more disciplined when classes are smaller. The decision to halve classes of 40 into two groups of 20 meant teachers could reach weaker pupils more easily and consolidate the teaching of concepts more thoroughly. Until now, small classes have been the reality of the more privileged schools, which could afford to hire extra teachers via fee structures. This must change. The only logic for large classes in ordinary public schools has been financial, not educational. Teachers in poorer schools thrived when pandemic conditions demanded smaller classes for social distancing. Government must take heed of this and revisit teacher-pupil ratios as the pandemic fog lifts...

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