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Motshekga makes request for easing of social distancing measures in classrooms

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Picture: Supplied.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jan 27, 2022

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DURBAN - THE minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said yesterday that recommendations had been made to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to reduce social distancing measures in classrooms.

This comes amid growing calls for the department to scrap rotational learning in schools. It is the one-metre distancing requirement at schools, published in the Government Gazette, that compels them to have rotational schedules due to big class sizes.

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Last week, civil society organisations, including Equal Education, penned a letter to the ministers of Basic Education, Health, and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to call for a return to full-time classes.

The DA said yesterday it had filed an application in the Gauteng High Court to enable and compel schools to open fully, immediately.

Speaking on day one of a three-day annual Basic Education Sector Lekgotla held in Kempton Park, Motshekga began by highlighting the need for building a cogent response on the measures to reboot and rebuild the basic education system that had been affected by two years of Covid-19.

She said they were looking at options that would mitigate against the loss of contact teaching time.

“We have recommended that the NCCC reduce the social distancing measures in our classrooms.

“The ideal is to have all our pupils receiving contact teaching time at the same time to mitigate against dropouts, increase retention rates, and prevent failures,” she said.

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Motshekga said research had revealed that pupils from disadvantaged communities were more likely to drop out of the system due to rotational timetabling, as they missed out on routines and school services such as feeding schemes and health services.

“Our responsibility as government is to offer the highest standard of basic education to our pupils in a safe and secure environment.

“According to research, the sector lost at least 50% of curriculum time due to rotational timetabling and intermittent closures,” she said.

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