Stats SA report unpacks Covid-19 brutality on the education system

The year 2020 was the most difficult in the history of South Africa’s education system, according to a report published by Statistics South Africa: Covid-19 and barriers to participation in education in South Africa, 2020.

The report, which was released this week, has found that just 1.1-million children between five and 13 years, and 14 and 18 years were out of school in 2020. The report further shows that close to three-quarters of children aged between 0 and 6 years were not attending any educational institution.

“In 2020, the percentage of out-of-school five-years-olds was the highest with 37.7% compared to the other age groups, followed by those 6 years old at 11.8%. The Covid-19 pandemic changed not only the way people live, but also the way children learn.

“First-time learners were destined to experience learning in a very different way than their predecessors. In South Africa, school closures were announced on 18 March 2020, interrupting the learning of 17-million learners from pre-school to secondary school.”

The report further brings to the fore that rotational and remote learning was not possible in some areas, as the less fortunate schools struggled the most, while urban provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were at 8.6% in terms of participation in remote learning, the highest rate so far.

North West had a proportionately lower participation rate in remote learning at 2.4%, far lower than the national average and rural areas. The percentage of 18-year-olds who were out of school was higher from 2016 to 2019, it has found.

It also indicates that more than two-thirds of male-headed households, at 68.5%, had internet access at home compared to 31.5% of female-headed households. Among individuals aged between 10 and 24 attending public schools, only 45% owned mobile phones, while the majority of 54.6% did not own one.

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Coceka Magubeni

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