The national state of disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa is an opportunity for parents and communities to do their part to mitigate the impact of school closures by ensuring that children are safe, emotionally supported, and do not fall behind academically.
“School closures, even for short periods, carry economic and social costs, especially in disadvantaged communities, so we appreciate the fact that the Department of Basic Education has not taken this decision lightly,” says Merle Mansfield, Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign.
Schools across the country will close on Wednesday, 18 March, and are scheduled to open on 14 April, unless the Department of Basic Education decides otherwise. The closures will result in the loss of at least 10 school days, as well as the disruption of school enrichment and school nutrition programmes.
“Many children rely on their school for meals, which is why we are calling on communities to rally behind organisations that are working to fill the gap while schools are shut,” says Mansfield.
To ensure that children stay on track with their schoolwork, the department has called on educators to give learners worksheets to take home. “Although not all parents can afford to take time off to supervise their children while at home, there are free online resources available to help learners stay focused on their school subjects,” Mansfield explains.
Zero-rated e-learning material and other CAPS-aligned educational apps are available to download, and parents can find them on the department’s website.
Mansfield also encourages parents to teach their children about protecting themselves from the coronavirus through good hygiene practices.
“Children might become anxious and overwhelmed during this period, particularly if they are socially isolated, so it’s important to speak to them about their concerns in an open, honest and reassuring manner,” Mansfield explains.
“We believe that every child deserves a champion, particularly during times of uncertainty and change,” Mansfield concludes.
For interview requests or more information, contact Zero Dropout Communications Lead Rahima Essop.