Opening up New Spaces for Education

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of education is uncertain. There are so many things that could affect how and when schools will be able to open doors to children permanently and the environment in which they could be learning.

At the start of the pandemic, no one was prepared for what was to come, and COVID-19 left teachers scrambling around to get work packs together or to figure out how platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Google classroom work. Children were left in the hands of their parents in the hopes that they would still be able to work through the expected curriculum for the year. It was a difficult time for all.

There is no guarantee that this will not happen again in the future, be it from a virus or civil unrest or weather induced situations. This means that all teaching staff have had to find a way to be more flexible in their way of teaching and more able to reach all their learners.

By bringing technology into classrooms and finding ways to use it to teach children, many children have been able to continue schooling during the various levels of lockdown with very little disruption. This is not the case for many schools though.

Communities must stand together

Pupil at Life Christian Academy in GeorgeUnfortunately, there are many South Africans who do not have access to the technology that is needed to be part of online classes. They might not even have the means to go to a school and collect work packs. Low-income households find it difficult to afford the normal necessities to survive.

This makes it very difficult for them to buy things such as a personal computer, laptops or even cellular phones. The cost of internet for these households can also be out of reach when considering their financial abilities.

All parents and teachers want the best for their children and perhaps it is time for different avenues to be considered, especially for low-income households. It is time for the community to stand together to support the children and their futures.

In a perfect world, all families would have the access they need to technology for online classes, but we do not live in a perfect world. Community and church halls could be the future of online classes. Setting up a roster for classes within the hall to rotate per subject or grade could be a good starting point.

In a school, church or community hall, there could be tables set out for children to come and watch a class that is presented online by a teacher for the subject or topic to be covered. These can still be done online, and live streamed with a projector onto a screen or white wall. Work packs or homework can then also be available to those who come to these community online class venues.

Let’s support the children

There may be very little interaction during these streamed classes, but it would help those who do not have access to internet and other technology at home. Teachers could then also find a way to support the children in their classes when they need more guidance.

Many teachers used different applications on their phones to keep in contact with parents and these were also ways to send videos and information to their classes.

Regardless of the situation we as teachers find ourselves in, it is important for us to be able to do our best with the resources available to us and the children in our classes. We need to find a way that is feasible for all involved that will give us the best outcome. Each teacher needs to do his or her best and be flexible in their practice.

It is time for us to step up and work together with the parents and communities to make sure that the children receive everything they need to have the brightest future possible with the resources available at the time. 

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