On Monday the 6th of July 2020 , all grade R , 6 and 11 pupils across South-Africa returned to school implementing the “ staggered approach “ proposed by the Education Department . The staggered approach was introduced by the minister of Basic Education , Angie Motshekga , and seemed well thought through , but on Tuesday grade 11 and 12 pupils of Belhar Secondary School , came to grips with reality .
As a matriculant , I have been at school for 4 weeks , and all seemed well , until the grade 11 learners returned on Monday . Everything went completely haywire . Before , and during the screening process , social distancing was not applied at all . First of all , the holding area , which is our school hall , is too small for social distancing to be applied properly . Secondly , with all the classes being split in half , there are not enough educators , since more than 10 of our educators suffer from comorbidities . Even when we were alone at school , there wasn’t enough educators and when the grade 11’s returned, the shortage of educators caused complete and utter chaos. Clearly , the staggered approach application isn’t working , and only seemed good on paper .
Tuesday , second interval all the matriculants came together in front of the school gate and demanded to speak to the principal , as we did not feel safe and also to let him know that we feel this staggered approach is not working and we will be protesting the following day for our voices to be heard . Some of the grade 11 learners felt that we are depriving them of their education and that we are being selfish , and feel that we are superior to them. Being one of the learners who personally spoke to the principal , I can say that , this is not true at all . We do not want any grade 11 learner to feel inferior to us , and we are not only concerned about our own lives , but the lives of all grade 11 learners as well .
Our school is not ready to receive all the matriculants , as well as the grade 11’s as of yet , and that is a fact . We understand fully that it was not the school’s decision to receive the grade 11’s back , but that of the Education Department . All we ask of the school is to try and alternate the days and time’s the grade 11’s come to school since we have to be at school every day , not only because we are matric , but also because our syllabus for our NSC examination are not being ammended at all even though we have not been at school for more than 2 months . I can’t begin to imagine what will happen when the grade 10’s return as of next week , if things are already this chaotic . I am writing down my fears and anxieties , but I am also speaking for all matriculants when I say that , being a matriculant during this difficult time is stressfull enough as it is and we honestly do not need this as well .
I completely understand that school and life in general needs to go on as per the new normal , but I honestly feel that the education department needs to go back to the drawing board , and rethink the phasing in of grades , because lives are at stake . I hope and pray that our voices will be heard and that this matter won’t be taken up lightly .