The DBE welcomes efforts from the Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and the private sector in assisting schools to recover learning losses suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outlining the research findings on the learning losses caused by COVID-19, Dr Stephen Taylor, Director for Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation the DBE, said that COVID-19 affected the academic performance of many learners across the Basic Education Sector. “We have now begun to measure COVID-19 related learning losses in South Africa by comparing how much children learned in 2020 with how much they learned previously during a normal school year. These measures indicate that between 50% and 75% of a normal year’s worth of learning was lost during 2020. The delay in the start of the academic year during 2021 and the extended absence of learners from school will have a long lasting negative impact for the Sector. In the long run, the learning losses in primary schools may lead to an increase in dropout when these learners reach Grades 10, 11 and 12. It is at this point when learners with weak learning foundations begin to drop out in large numbers. The first step towards addressing the crisis of lost learning, is to prevent further disruptions to school time and therefore prevent further learning losses”.
The DBE, together with the National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development (NICPD), has initiated the Learning Recovery Programme (LRP) Workshop to upskill teachers in addressing learning deficits in schools. The partnership saw the first workshop taking place at Birchwood Hotel in the Gauteng Province from 13 – 14 February 2023. It is envisaged that the Workshop will play a crucial role in enabling the DBE to finalise the participants and facilitator’s manuals required by the National Core Training Team (NCTT) and the Provincial Core Training Teams (PCTTs) in improving learning outcomes in schools. The two teams are expected to train circuit managers, teachers, SMTs and curriculum support and delivery specialists at provincial and district levels to implement the LRP effectively. The LRP focuses on the following underlying principles: provincial alignment; a differentiated and development approach; managing change in the system; and the professional work of teachers in the instructional core. The development of the LRP involved a wide spectrum of education stakeholders including representatives drawn from the DBE, PEDs, and teacher unions through TDCM structures.
Dr Aaron Nkosi from the NICPD, emphasised the importance of preparedness towards the roll-out of the LRP and its desired outcome. He added that learners should work hard to recover lost learning and close the gap to the best of their ability. “It is therefore important that learners recover as much learning as possible during 2023/4 and that teachers consistently identify and address learning deficits as part of their professional practice. The NCTT is expected to lead the rollout of the LRP in all PEDs through the establishment of PCTTs that will in turn train all teachers. The LRP rollout will be divided into two phases. The first phase will focus more on the generic implementation and will guide teachers on the importance of working collectively in their respective schools, whilst reviewing learning challenges in relation to the ATP, and outlines what support will be required. The first phase will also concentrate on the role of education districts in monitoring and supporting the work of SMTs, and will be completed by the end of September 2023. The second phase, which has been scheduled for the 2024 school calendar, will put more emphasis on the subject and address what was learnt from the first phase,” added Dr Nkosi.