15 350 pupils ‘lost in the system’

20 January 2021 | Education

ESTER KAMATI

OTJIWARONGO

With the ministry of education taking a blended approach through online efforts and remote teaching and learning, about 15 350 learners did not return to school or participate in online assessments last year.

According to Sanet Steenkamp, the executive director of education, at least 14 300 learners studied from home last year, while the remaining 15 350 never returned to school and are said to be “lost in the system”.

Leaners who returned to school and completed their assignments were graded and combined with the marks of those who sat for tests to determine whether they could be promoted to the next grade.

“The only learners who were not promoted are the learners who never reported and the learners who were unaccounted for,” said Steenkamp.

According to her, the ministry plans to invest in a formal online learner management system this year, especially for junior and senior primary school.

She added that ensuring that teachers have the necessary communication devices would be a priority for the ministry.

“The regions are yet to provide the exact details of learners per grade regarding how many were promoted through their own hard work, how many were condoned and how many will repeat,” Steenkamp said.

She emphasised that postponing school reopening, as well as prolonged school closures, is detrimental and will be considered as the last option.

“We must be aware that there will be unintended consequences that school closures will have on the social aspects of learners,” she said.

In only eight months of schools not being in full operation, more than 3 625 pregnancies were reported last year, while 18 boys dropped out of school after impregnating a girl.

“School closure is the last resort,” Steenkamp said.

“There is globally no evidence whatsoever that shows us that school settings and children themselves are primary drivers for Covid-19”.

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