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Schools to open without physical contact

Schools to open without physical contact

Eba Kandovazu

SCHOOLS will officially open on 20 April but physical contact between learners and teachers will not be implemented, the Executive Director of Education Sanet Steenkamp announced this morning.


Steenkamp clarified that although schools are opening, no learners will return to school.


Instead, children will attend school in the comfort of their homes, she said.


The opening of schools entails online learning and offline learning.


She stated that where necessary, teachers will be required to reach out to learners who do not have the means for online learning.


Steenkamp was speaking at the Covid-19 communication centre, where she also urged parents to strictly develop a disciplinary learning environment for children at home.


Parents are required to, amongst others, set aside a dedicated time for reading.


“What we are doing is that we want to restore a sense of purpose. The ministry is working around the clock and we’ve engaged our unions as well as the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso). We want to introduce the notion of working from home for teachers. We’re looking to see how they can also reach learners offline, learners who have no access to the internet. What learners and teachers should be aware of is that holiday mode is over. By Wednesday, we will submit a preliminary report to our principals and we will take it from there,” Steenkamp added.


Schools officially open physical contact 20 April learners teachers
EDUCATION FIRST: Nanso Acting Secretary General Patience Masua, Education Ministry Ed Sanet Steenkamp and Namcol Director Haroldt Murangi. Photo: Eba Kandovazu


She further maintained that learners should avoid panic, in that no one will repeat the same grade.


“The worst case scenario is learners repeating the year. Let me make it very clear that we are not moving towards that and that is not a consideration at this juncture. The unpacking of teachers working from home through these online classes and parents being the primary teachers will be a successful circumstance, ” Steenkamp stressed.


Steenkamp further added that although resistance might be expected from the teaching fraternity, positive inputs by teachers have been observed.


Meanwhile, Nanso Acting Secretary-General, Patience Masua, on her part said that the organisation is currently in consultations with school principals, adding that learner packages for grades 1 to 3 are being prepared to ensure better learning.


“These packages will contain learning exercises for different subjects. We’re currently focusing on grade 1 to 3 because of a lack of resources and we really are focusing on the most vulnerable learners. It is a pilot program and we are also busy engaging private sectors to hop on board and help us in getting sufficient resources to cater for learners countrywide,” Masua said.


She said that the education ministry has availed social workers and psychologists who can work hand in hand with learners during this period.


The lockdown period has not only affected basic education but higher learning education as well.


The Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) has extended its mid-term break and the University of Namibia (Unam) has since suspended face-to-face lectures and instead implemented an online learning system.


Nanso is of the opinion that the closure of universities has thus plunged students into unforeseen and difficult circumstances.


Masua said that amongst other issues, a majority of students have been disadvantaged in that they do not have adequate resources to attend to online classes.


Most of them, she said, relied on campus resources such as computers and wifi to complete assignments.


“We’ve gotten complains from students with no electricity at home, students who do not have laptops and students who used to rely on university infrastructure. We still have lecturers demanding assessments from students amidst this crisis. We have students in remote areas who used to rely on charging their phones at a shebeen and these shebeens have since closed. It is a rather intricate and sensitive matter. What we are saying as Nanso is that we will not let mitigating measures during this crisis be at the disadvantage of students who equally paid for registration fees at universities, who unfortunately find themselves in these unforeseen circumstances,” Masua concluded.


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