A Colourful Day Admidst DarknessSeptember 21, 2020
I am a teacherOctober 12, 2020
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Edufundi has stayed in contact with beneficiaries in order to continually assess and respond to their needs. In addition to the 1800+ telephonic support sessions we’ve provided since the beginning of lockdown, we recently surveyed our school principals to find out how they are coping, and what they need from Edufundi going forward. Thirty-seven principals responded to the survey, and their responses point to the strain that schools have faced during this time, and will continue to face going forward.
How have schools been supported to protect their learners and teachers?
At the time of survey, 54% of principals reported that they were aware of COVID-19 infections among their learners or teachers. When asked about personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the Department of Education:
- 22% of principals said that they did not have enough masks and/or face shields for all their teachers and learners.
- 11% had not been provided with enough hand sanitiser for all their teachers and learners.
“Not all PPE that were supposed to be delivered have arrived, a number of masks are disposable, in a week’s time the school will not be COVID-19 regulations compliant… No budget to replenish. The school will not be able to sustain until level-1.” – Eastern Cape School Principal
What kinds of support do our schools still need?
The stress of managing the return of teachers and learners to school has been compounded by COVID-19 infections and deaths in the school community:
“It has been a traumatic time for our school, [we] lost two teachers within a four-week period, many staff members tested positive, it has been a tough journey.” – Western Cape School Principal
Most schools have not been able to provide formal psychosocial support to their teachers and learners during this time, however some have reached out to non-profit and government organizations for support.
In determining the nature of support that could be provided to schools by Edufundi going forward, we asked principals to report on internet connectivity available at school, what type of support they would prefer (virtual, school-based, or a combination thereof), and what the focus of support should be.
- Principals from all schools and teachers from most schools have access to some kind of internet connection while at school, however many schools reported that their internet connections were unstable.
- Sixteen schools (43%) requested a combination of virtual and school-based support.
- Twelve schools (32%) requested virtual support only.
- Six schools (16%) requested that Edufundi continue with school-based support only (mostly KwaZulu-Natal schools, due to a lack of reliable internet connection).
- Principals requested support in a wide variety of areas, including adapting to the “new normal” of teaching and learning in classrooms, guidance on curriculum coverage for 2020, and psychosocial support for learners and teachers.
“[We need support in] coping with the new normal. Adapting to virtual platforms. Managing distance learning and assessments.” – Kwazulu-Natal School Principal
“[We need support in] motivation of learners; stimulating interest in learning; creative and innovative ways for lesson presentation; effective use of resources; handling the emotional needs of learners; advice to teachers with regards to learners with barriers to learning, bearing in mind the few months remaining of 2020 for curriculum coverage.”- Western Cape School Principal
Schools need us now more than ever
This survey and our virtual interactions with teachers during lockdown have shown that there is a need (and an appetite) for continued support, from Edufundi as well as from other non-profits. As teachers and learners return to school in a COVID-19 world, teachers and principals want support to ensure that effective teaching and learning can resume. Virtual support via platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Zoom have proven invaluable for reaching teachers and principals during this time, and we believe they are key to providing an innovative and safe way of supporting schools going forward.