A lot of learning has been lost over the last two years, and the road to recovery for our learners threatens to be a painstaking one. But there’s now a very serious question that has cropped up in the political sphere – and many are now pondering if adding an extra hour onto the school day will do any good.
Will the school day be extended in South Africa?
Thanks to social distancing and lockdown requirements, pupils have spent hundreds of hours outside of the classroom since 2020. Last week, South Africa dropped all COVID-19 restrictions on attendance in schools, paving the way for a return to normality for our children. However, there could be a new legacy created by this pandemic.
The DA is actively proposing an extended schedule in South Africa. They want to add an hour on to each school day, while utilising the power of both online and in-person learning. John Steenhuisen, the opposition leader, says that his party are looking to combat school drop-out rates and teacher absenteeism with their policies.
“Our existing Economic Justice Policy contains proposals that… includes interventions to combat school drop-out rates, teacher absenteeism and malnutrition and stunting in children.”
“During the course of this year we will release a further series of policy positions which we envisage to be part of the foundation of a new policy approach for a realigned government in 2024. We now have two years to make our case and convincingly demonstrate the DA difference in the places where we govern.”
Five extra hours of class a week? DA looking to make up for lost time
DA education spokesperson Baxolile Nodada is leading the charge on this one. He believes there is value in extending the school day, and in a recent appearance on the DA’s YouTube channel, ‘Bax’ declared that robust strategies are needed to undo the damage caused by rotational learning.
However, these proposals have already been given a cold reception by the Education Department. Elijah Mhlanga, a representative of the DBE, told News24 that extending the school day ‘would only cause further confusion’:
“If they want to extend the school day, they can start in the Western Cape and do it there. As a sector, we want all learners back in class and schools fully functional. All other suggestions will be addressed in due course. We don’t want to confuse people by sending mixed messages.”