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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

COVID-19 and Glaring Inequalities in South Africa’s Education System

South Africa

South Africa is not merely reeling under the lack of resources pre-requisite for e-learning. The complex education system is also replete with other challenges ripped open by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every measure that has been implemented to stop the spread of COVI-19 pandemic is bouncing back. The range of systematic problems has made education during COVID-19 a challenge.

Infrastructure and Amenities: Besides hygiene and sanitation, a few schools do not have the infrastructure to shift classroom online or formulate effective strategies to bridge the gap in learning. Learners, too, do not have access to laptops or resources to afford daily internet. Schools do not possess the resources to redesign a curriculum based on the needs of virtual platforms. Furthermore, the

Less Flexibility: Many schools cannot switch to online learning for lack of flexibility. For instance, inaccessibility of course content once it is shifted to the virtual platform. Such a redesigning would also require interactive learning materials accessible and comprehensible by the students. Without interactive elements, students will not engage in the sessions thereby posing numerous obstacles in teaching.

Schools in South Africa are also in dire need of resource allocation to implement social distancing. At this juncture, it remains uncertain how the country will conduct classes once the schools are opened from 1 June 2020. The fee pre-requisites are:

  • Reduction of student size in classes
  • Provision of handwash and clean water
  • Classroom facilities and space for quarantining students when needed
  • Revamped monitoring and transportation system

The previous series of events has also exposed vulnerabilities in the spheres of classroom infrastructure, teaching staff and basic hygiene. Unless the government prioritizes the basics, the risks associated with sending children back to schools loom large.

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