South Africa’s Youth Faces A Different Set of Challenges This Youth Day

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Online School, Brainline, says today’s youth faces a different set of challenges to the Class of 1976, however, these obstacles are as detrimental to their future than that of 45 years ago. Brainline CEO, Coleen Cronje, says as the country celebrates Youth Day on June 16, the young people of South Africa stare an uncertain future in the face in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the havoc it has created within academic circles.

‘We know the South African education system has been characterised by decaying infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and overwhelmingly poor educational outcomes stemming from many factors such as inequality. However, the coronavirus and the subsequent school closures over the last 12 months, have had a devastating effect on the time learners spent on their academic future. It is yet to be determined whether the backlog of the time lost in the classroom will be recovered,’ says Cronje.

A recent report by the South African Teachers Union (SAOU) painted a bleak picture of the state of the country’s basic education. It stated, amongst others, that 66% of schools failed to complete the CAPS-curriculum last year, while more than half have not been able to cover the first phase of curriculum during the first portion of the 2021 academic year.

‘The report comes amid an announcement by the Department of Basic Education that the June-exams for Grade 12’s have also been scrapped to allow for more time to catch up with the curriculum. This is once again an indicator of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our matrics in particular. The mid-year exams are critical to gauge the readiness of these students halfway through the year,’ Cronje explains.

Cronje says Brainline’s Grade 12 students will, however, still write their June exams as they have enjoyed uninterrupted classes throughout last year and this year. She says it is important to continue to assess the progress of the Brainline learners on a continuous basis to prepare them for the final exams.

‘Our June exams forms part of their marks for the year and it also gives us the opportunity to identify the need for intervention where students need help,’ she elaborates.

But many students are not so fortunate to have had the advantage of online learning. While e-learning has been embraced by schools and universities around the country and the world, many schools in South Africa, especially in rural areas, are still without the advantages of technology.

‘Covid-19 has ushered in a time of change and forced paradigm shifts in many areas. It has forced us to rethink the traditional school model and question the way we teach. Educators have been instrumental in finding new ways to ensure learning continues for children by developing online and offline learning materials; learning about the working of video conferencing tools to be able to meet students regularly and conducting mental and social well-being sessions during the start of the school day and at closure. However, thousands of children all over South Africa do not even have a proper classroom, not even to mention access to online platforms.’

Cronje says the current third wave of the coronavirus and another set of school closures in many parts of the country should create a greater sense of urgency to find a lasting solution.

 

‘Virtual schools might be a relatively a new concept, but the new trend of the blended learning model is gaining popularity. We know that the coronavirus and its effects will be with us for some time to come, therefore it’s imperative that all stakeholders work together to find a fast and lasting solution, so that we give our youth hope for a prosperous future through uninterrupted education.’

Brainline is IEB recognised. Learners who are enrolled with us to complete their final examinations and who fulfil the requirements for this qualification will receive their National Senior Certificate (NSC), as issued by Umalusi.

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