Picture: DAILY DISPATCH
Picture: DAILY DISPATCH

The Gauteng government is negotiating with labour unions and other education sector stakeholders to scrap the June school holidays due to the disruption caused by SA’s Covid-19 outbreak.

Gauteng is SA’s most densely populated province and has quickly emerged as the country’s Covid-19 epicentre. As of Wednesday, 319 of SA’s 709 confirmed cases were in Gauteng.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Wednesday that the government hopes to scrap the June school holidays to enable schools to catch up on the missed learning opportunities triggered by their early closure ahead of the Easter holidays, and the three-week national lock down, which begins at midnight on Thursday.

Schools closed on March 18 and were due to resume teaching on April 15, but the lockdown means they will remain closed until at least April 20. Learners will thus have been away from their classrooms for at least a month by the time schools re-open.

“When we come back, we want to run without a break because there have already been breaks,” said Lesufi.

The Gauteng provincial government will be implementing a range of measures to help learners during the coming weeks. Learning material will be broadcast from April 1 on two DStv MultiChoice channels, and on several SABC radio stations.

Agreements have been signed with Telkom and Vodacom to provide free education material to their subscribers, Lesufi said. Once schools re-open, catch-up programmes will take place on Saturdays and afternoons, and there will be study camps during the September holidays.

The Gauteng provincial government said content could be retrieved by learners on the following websites: education.gauteng.gov.za; skool.com; mathsisfun.com; learn.khanacademy.org; phet.colorado.edu and za.ixl.com.

Lesufi said the school nutrition programme, which provides meals to needy children in primary and secondary schools, will be converted into a grocery donation programme managed by NGOs.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za