Parliament, Monday, 6 April 2020 – The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, today urged all learners to set dedicated time aside for school work, in light of extended school holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown the country is currently experiencing.

Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba said the committee was briefed before schools closed regarding the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) precautionary measures and plans to ensure that learning continues during these uncertain times, either through television or digital channels.

“As part of the committee’s oversight responsibility, I and other Members of Parliament have been monitoring resources made available to learners. I am confident that with the content noted on the DBE’s website and social media platforms, coupled with resources from various social partners, our learners have sufficient material to keep them busy so that when formal schooling resumes, they have not missed out on much schoolwork or are on par.”

She urged learners to make use of the television programmes and all digital platforms that were made available. “I want to further commend schools that have also made resources available and have educators that communicate with learners via email or WhatsApp where they might experience challenges. These extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and thinking outside the box.”

She further urged Grade 12 students, in particular, to use their time wisely, as they are about two months away from the crucial June examinations. “Every effort should be made to ensure that this group of learners does not fall behind. We as a community should unite behind them and assist wherever we can to ensure our Matrics work sufficiently during this time.”

Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba said learners cannot do this on their own. “This can only happen if we have a concerted effort by all stakeholders – learners, parents, guardians, educators and everyone involved – to ensure our learners stay focussed. We should stand together to make this work.”

During the briefing from DBE last month, the committee heard that the school calendar will be amended to make up for the lost days of schooling. The June 2020 vacation will be shortened by seven days and the September one by two days. All school activities will be either scaled down, suspended or cancelled. This includes spelling bees, moot court, school athletics, school camps and assemblies. The committee further heard that the situation will be monitored daily and communication will only occur via one channel to avoid confusion.