South Africa

Cape Town is changing its school timetables – what you should know

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has announced new interventions to address severe learning losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This will include time allocation for mathematics and reading each week in the foundation phase (grades 1 to 3), it said.

“These are the grades that were most severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we must do everything we possibly can to ensure that our youngest students are not disadvantaged in later grades.

“The intervention will see an extra two hours per week allocated to reading and one extra hour per week for mathematics, for all foundation phase students in the province – amounting to an increase of at least 60 learning hours per student in the subjects over the remainder of the year. The intervention will support other recovery plans that are already underway.”

These increases will be accommodated by adjusting the amount of time allocated to Life Skills, so the intervention will not increase the length of the school day, the department said.

“We recognise the importance of Life Skills teaching in the development of our students. It is therefore important that the remaining time for the subject be used effectively within the new timetables.”

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Data provided by the department earlier in 2022 shows severe learning losses associated with the pandemic.

“While we had previously made great progress with a steady increase in performance in years preceding 2020, these gains have unfortunately been reversed.

“The greatest learning losses can be seen in the Foundation Phase. We have always maintained that the loss of contact (face-to-face) teaching time would affect our youngest students the most as they do not have the same self-discipline, maturity or structure that our older students would have to cope with rotating timetables and learning at home. ”

Comparing the 2021 and 2019 systemic test results, Grade 3 pass rates in mathematics dropped by 13.8 percentage points, and in language by 8.0 percentage points. These learning losses will have serious knock effects as these students progress through their school careers, the department said.

“A minute will be sent to schools outlining what is required and providing suggested timetables when implementing the intervention. All foundation phase teachers will participate in a webinar on Monday (25 July), to take them through the intervention before it is implemented.

“The intervention will be monitored over the remaining weeks of the school year, and a review report will be produced to inform the steps we will take in 2023. Schools that have already made their own adjustments to address learning losses in this phase will have the opportunity to request exemption from the change, if they can demonstrate that they are effectively addressing the losses.”

Read: South Africans are running out of money before the end of the month – and battle to pay school fees

Artmotion S.Africa

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