by Taati Niilenge and Roxane Bayer
SOME private schools in the country have given pupils the option to submit work online to avoid falling behind amid the lockdown.
The Private School Swakopmund (PSS) has already turned to e-learning.
According to school director Hein Daiber, the school aims to provide pupils with a new normal, allowing them to adjust to a new routine at home.
“We don’t think the coronavirus will go away before 16 April,” Daiber said.
The school has provided pupils with books to allow education to continue at home. Children have also received worksheets.
High school pupils have been given assignments to submit online.
Daiber said the school is working on conferencing options for teachers to continue providing pupils with classes. Additional computers at the school will be made available to assist children with no home computer.
“School is not only an academic institution, but also a social one,” Daiber said.
The mother of a Grade 3 pupil at PSS said they received a 13-day pack with English and mathematics revision exercises to be completed for at least an hour a day at home.
She said they were advised by the school that pupils should read for 30 minutes a day and do half an hour of physical exercise daily.
Windhoek Gymnasium Private School principal Abrie Myburgh said after the unexpected holiday they are faced with two scenarios: the first is that should schools reopen on 20 April, the school year will continue as planned, with a few activities realigned.
She said 2020 is important for Grade 11 and 12 pupils, who will be writing external exams based on the new curriculum.
The second scenario, should the lockdown be extended, is to ensure education continues.
“We are fortunate that each secondary school pupil is in possession of an iPad, and we have learning media systems in place to educate them,” Myburgh said. According to her, the school has solutions for pupils with no internet access.
“Pupils can communicate with teachers and classmates. Teachers will be able to monitor pupils’ activities,” she said.
STATE SCHOOLS AND INTERNET ACCESS
Ndilimeke Dawid, a public school teacher at Rehoboth Primary School, said online learning platforms will only benefit some pupils while others will be left out.
She said about half of her pupils live with their grandparents who are computer illiterate.
Another concern is how younger pupils will cope with the consequences of not going to school.
Dawid, a parent herself, said her young daughter does not understand why she is not able to go to school.
Maurisius Himudite, a teacher at Hage G Geingob High School in Windhoek, said the lockdown has been frustrating teachers.
“I miss my pupils. I have a syllabus I want to complete,” he said, adding it was hard to explain to younger children why they cannot go back to school.
LOOKING FOR PLAN B
Meanwhile, some Grade 1 teachers at Walvis Bay urged parents to spend time doing schoolwork with their children to ensure they are academically refreshed when school resumes.
Some teachers have been sending parents schoolwork to keep children busy.
“This is the best time for parents to get involved. Let us not give up on the children,” said Rosetta Mbimbi, a Grade 1 public school teacher at Flamingo Primary School at Walvis Bay.
Mbimbi has been able to reach most of her 45 pupils through their parents’ cellphones, while a few are at villages with no access to the internet. Esme Goagoses, a Grade 1 teacher with 38 pupils at Immanuel Ruiters Primary School at Kuisebmond, has also been in contact with parents.
“I have a WhatsApp group where I always text a bit of schoolwork. It will help if parents spend a few minutes doing the exercises I sent with pupils. I tell them they do not have to push the children much. If you can ask your child during household chores to tell you the shape of the plate you are washing or the colour of your pen – even that bit helps,” she said.
Some parents have been giving Mbimbi feedback by sending pictures of their children reading or counting.