The Department of Basic Education is now gearing up and preparing for the 2021 academic year. Part of this sees them having to place thousands of children into schools as we near the end of the current academic year. They have also laid out plans for classrooms.
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The Department of Basic Education has had intense discussions with every province on their state of readiness to open schools in 2021 as we near the end of the current academic year. They have now outlined what their plans are and where they stand in planning for 2021.
With having to survive alongside Covid-19 for quite a while now, we also expect that we'll have to continue doing this for the upcoming months because life has to continue. This means that the Department and schools have to have safety measures in place so that teaching can continue while decreasing risks.
All provinces have either trained their teachers, learners and staffs on protocols which will need to be followed in 2021 and there are plans to train any new teachers, learners and staff next year. Some schools will also have an orientation included in the school timetable to clearly detail what has to be done to remain safe during the 2021 school year.
Social distancing will continue at school with marking being made. the department has also assessed how this will affect the curriculum. Compliance officers will also be making regular visits to schools to assess the risk levels at these schools as well as make sure that protocols are in place and support along with advising is given.
As for school admissions for 2021, the department has so far placed 519 343 Grade 1s for next year and still needs to place a further 80 980. With Grade 8s, the department has placed 554 444 children for 2021 and will place a further 98 968.
The challenges the department seemed to have in planning for the 2021 academic year include parents choices, late applications as well as documentation issues.
Schools are also having limited space. It's a known issue that in some provinces schools are overcrowded as an insufficiency exists when it comes to school infrastructures and classrooms.
To combat this, the department plans to redirect resources to township schools while also improving the management and safety within these schools. To solve space issues, they are looking into unused classrooms and the stet up of mobile classrooms.
In the Eastern Cape, about 7500 learners have applied to have an at home learning programme which will see schools having to report back weekly.
Learners who decided to not return to school when it was safe to do so during lockdown are being encouraged to re-apply for the same grade while an audit of the dropout rate during 2020 has already been conducted.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education sat down for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the preparations for the Department's readiness for the reopening of schools in 2021, the second chance Matric programme and also on the Education Employment Initiative which will see the recruitment of 300 000 youth as school assistants.
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