The Department of Basic Education seemed to have had a solid plan to ensure the academic year is recovered and time lost due to the national lockdown are made up for – right up until President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension last Thursday.
A Draft Framework for Curriculum Recovery Post Covid-19, which News24 has seen, showed two scenarios with which schools would have reopened. The first scenario was that schools would have opened on 21 April, after the lockdown was initially meant to be lifted, and again on 7 July.
Scenario 1: Schools reopen on 21 April 2020
Under this scenario, the draft showed that the second quarter would have been extended by two weeks, resulting in July holidays being shortened by a week. September holidays would also have been shortened and the school closure at the end of the year would have been extended by eight days, so that an additional five days could be recovered, the draft showed.
Another recommendation under this scenario was for school days in Term 2 to be extended by, among others, an additional 30 minutes for intermediate phase, one hour for senior phase and two hours for the Further Education and Training (FET) phase.
For Grade 12s under the scenario, the second quarter would have been extended by three weeks, which would have resulted in pupils in the grade not having a holiday.
Scenario 2: Schools reopen on 7 July 2020
The draft reads that, in this scenario, there would be a loss of 52 days, equating to a loss of 27% of the school year. To recover the lost time for Grades 1-11, the department planned to reduce the September holidays by three days and extend the school closure by five days in December, which would reduce the time lost.
If necessary, in this scenario, the department would have also extended Term 3’s school days by 30 minutes for intermediate phase, an hour for senior phase and a maximum of two hours for FET Phase.
For Grade 12s, there would have been an early start to the term, no September break, and the week extended to six days instead of five.
While the dates, in terms of the scenarios, seem to have now been affected since the announcement of a lockdown extension, another draft document, in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, which News24 has also seen, shows that schools are at this point planned to reopen on 4 May for teachers and 6 May for pupils.
It states that, with the new date, there would have been a loss of 25 teaching days as a result of the lockdown and five weeks of curriculum content not covered.
No June exams
The draft then recommended that, for Grade 12, there be, among other things, no June examinations, a five-day June break, a shortened September holiday, as well as the school closure extended to 9 December.
The documents states that preparatory examinations for matrics be written because they are important, and that school-based assessments be amended.
The implementations of the scenario for the 6 May opening show that the plan needed to have been finalised by 15 April. The curriculum reorganisation and trimming had to start on 17 April, before teachers start on 4 May and subsequently learners get phased-in according to grades.