The Minister says while they have put in a lot of work into curbing the number of children who drop out of school over the years, this year may reverse the gains made.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of schools remaining closed.
eNCA also reported that this is a major threat to the country’s education system and could result in what Motshekga calls a ‘coronavirus generation’.
She was visiting schools as part of her oversight on the first day back for Grades R, 6 and 11.
Motshekga says plans are afoot to recruit more teachers as part of meeting the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Motshekga says provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape have already started with the process following a number of teachers not being able to go back to school due to comorbidities.
Teacher unions have raised concerns that Motshekga is not making sure that there will be no teacher crisis when more learners go back to school at the end of July.
Motshekga says that the 2020 school year will have to be carried over to 2021.
Motshekga says the calendar for next year will be markedly different as they integrate the 2021 curriculum.
“That’s why we are saying for this year, let’s look at foundational skills we need for the next grade. So, what we have done with the curriculum for internal grades is we count the time that we are losing and integrating to 2021 and we change the calendar in 2021. So, we have accepted that we will not get all we bargained for in 2020. It’s not possible to integrate to 2021.”
Motshekga also responded to teacher unions’ concern about the recruitment of teachers saying that it is well under way.
“We are looking at all the databases we have of qualified unemployed teachers to see how many of them are still available, Gauteng is already taking some of them. Western Cape is employing them, not for now, when we start taking in more grades.”
She was visiting some schools in Midrand north of Johannesburg to assess the first day of schooling for Grades 6 and 11. While the schools Motshekga visited seemed ready, there were problems in other parts of Gauteng. In Pretoria, some schools were turning back learners.