Ministry readying to reopen schools

Students are safer at school, according to the education ministry.

14 January 2021 | Ministries

Sanet Steenkamp; Executive Director; “With good mitigation, risks are lower in schools.”

Swakopmund • [email protected]

The ministry of education, arts and culture (MoEAC) will table a plan of action on the reopening of schools for the 2021 academic year to Cabinet on Friday.

The proposed school term calendar dates are as follows:
Term 1: 26 January 2021 to 30 April 2021
Term 2: 26 May 2021 to 18 August 2021
Term 3: 1 September 2021 to 9 December 2021

Five days were added to the first term and four to the third term. Despite this, the number of teaching days totals 194 instead of the usual 196.

According to the deputy executive director of the MoEAC, Edda Widke-Bohn, the lost time will be reduced by using less repetition of previous class content.

“We have a spiral curriculum set up, which means that we often repeat work that has previously been dealt with to build onto the knowledge of that subject. So, to make up for that time we will have to rely on less repetition of previous work.”

Pandemic impact

MoEAC executive director Sanet Steenkamp proposed that schools strengthen Covid-19 personal health and disease prevention systems. The ministry believes that schools are in fact a safer place for students to be in during the pandemic.

“The ministry’s position is that schools will reopen. With good mitigation, risks are lower in schools. The ministry believes that it can safely move forward with face-to-face learning while ensuring the safety of learners and teachers,” Steenkamp said.

She noted that it will be vital to support learning with as many different mediums as possible in the new academic year.
Steenkamp added that Covid-19 statistics only rose in Namibia after the closure of schools for the 2020 academic year and that Covid-19 is said to be less dangerous amongst young people.

The pandemic had created challenges for the ministry in its venture to resume education in 2021. These include the deepening of the prior existing learning gap, learner pregnancy, dropout rates as well as a declining of students’ well-being in terms of cognitive, social, mental and physical health.

The ministry suggests a 5-week recovery framework to build inclusion and resilience in literacy skills to aid in the sustainable progression of education.

“Each teacher will have to make an assessment pertaining to the level at which their students are for us to bridge the gaps,” said

Health education

The focus on school health will include a stern focus on the washing of hands and sanitation, Steenkamp said.

“Schools must provide a forum for the dissemination of information and preventative interventions to ensure basic standards of health and well-being.”

The future of education also includes school feeding and nutrition, sexuality education, the provision of psychosocial support systems as well as inclusive and special education, according to Steenkamp.

She also noted that it is vital for students’ and teachers’ well-being that they are provided with adequate psychosocial support.