Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Education gets little attention in Sona, despite being badly affected by Covid

President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged in his State of the Nation address (Sona) on Thursday night that the country had a tough academic year last year because of Covid-19

Although Ramaphosa did not dwell much on education in his speech — focusing instead on the government’s four priorities, economic recovery among them — he did say that the disruption of schools had placed a huge burden on learners, teachers and their families, but that they had persevered. 

But even when they were reopened last year, many grades had to follow a rotating schedule to allow for social distancing. This also had a huge effect on the delivery of the curriculum: even though it was trimmed, there were many areas that were not covered. 

Ramaphosa said the priority this year is to “regain lost time and improve educational outcomes, from the early years through to high school and post-school education and training”. He did not, however, indicate how this would be achieved.

Recently, the Mail & Guardian reported on the dire consequences that will follow the disruption of schooling. And two weeks ago, the M&G reported on research by the department of basic education, which found that learners are likely to take about eight years to catch up on lost learning

Schools are meant to reopen on Monday; the 2021 academic year for higher education institutions will begin only in March. 

In Thursday night’s Sona, Ramaphosa said that building 300 000 student beds is one of the projects that will be prioritised through the R100-billion infrastructure fund.

But this is not a new revelation. The government started talking about building these 300 000 beds in 2017. At that time, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the aim was to build these beds in the next 10 years for students at universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. 

In his speech last year Ramaphosa did acknowledge that students at universities and TVET colleges were facing serious accommodation challenges. At the time, he said that R64-billion would be spent “over the next few years” in an effort to improve student accommodation. 

The M&G has previously reported on poor residence facilities at higher education institutions, particularly at previously disadvantaged universities. 

The president also said in his speech that the latest phase of the SA Connect project, which was first announced in 2013, has been approved. This programme will be responsible for rolling out broadband to schools, hospitals, police stations and other government facilities. Ramaphosa, however, again did not say when this rollout will begin. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘Exciting’ ramp-up for Covid jabs

As more vaccines arrive in the country, South Africa could administer 420 000 doses a day

Mokgoro was party to talks of his resignation

The North West premier has defied the interim provincial committee’s decision

More top stories

‘Exciting’ ramp-up for Covid jabs

As more vaccines arrive in the country, South Africa could administer 420 000 doses a day

Mokgoro was party to talks of his resignation

The North West premier has defied the interim provincial committee’s decision

Richard Calland: Cyril’s wicked cabinet conundrum

Three weeks ago, a second term for the president seemed a safe bet, but the insurgency has thrown the puzzle pieces in the air

ConCourt finds that protection of LGBT+ rights was intrinsic to...

The court also found that the term hurtful should be excised from the Equality Act in that it did not meet the justification threshold in the Constitution and gave Parliament 24 months to do so
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×