Clear Strategy Company has been running an online survey since the 16 March 2020 and have polled 28,000 South Africans on their opinions and experiences concerning Covid-19. We have covered topics such as opinions on government actions, concerns about the lockdown, loss of income and levels of anxiety. We have recently started to get the opinions of parents about the imminent re-opening of the schools. Our sample included parents of children from Grade RR to Grade 12.
We asked these parents’ opinions on the actions taken and how satisfied they are with the level of communication from the education department and their children’s school.
Generally they were more satisfied with the performance of their children’s schools on these measures than with the education department. The schools received good grades from parents with how they have communicated and shared information and supported their children.
WhatsApp is the most common method of communication used, followed by email and cellphone. Among the others mentioned, the D6 communicator was most often mentioned.
The vast majority of parents are worried about the social or emotional aspects of the Covid-19 crisis. Worryingly, 75% of respondents are not aware of any available support to help their children in this regard.
Another huge source of concern for parents is their ability to pay their children’s school fees while their income has been severely impacted by the crisis.
We asked parents what their current concerns are around the education of their children.
The most common theme that was mentioned was that they were worried that their children would fall behind in the curriculum and that it could end up wasting an entire school year. This was particularly true for parents of Matrics who, because of their short academic year, have been impacted severely. Many parents have been trying to fill the gaps left by the lack of teacher involvement, but are concerned that the quality of the teaching they have been giving will not be sufficient. Parents of Grade R and Grade 1 learners are concerned that their children are missing out on essential basic principles / grounding.
The next most common topic revolved around the mental well-being of their children. They are concerned that the lack of social interactions with friends and peers will result in long-term harm to their ability to socialise and in some cases lead to depression. Sport was also mentioned in this context.
The threat of infection with Covid-19 once their children returned to school was mentioned half as often as the first two themes.
The first two themes could be addressed by sending their children back to school yet very few parents (5%) called for the immediate re-opening of schools. This question was not directly asked in our survey, but we have added it now, please add your voice here:
Here are some comments from parents:
“I don’t think you can educate a child at home without being a qualified teacher. It’s unfair on the child and the parent”
“My son in matric, is there enough time to complete this year?”
“I pay massive school fees for very little “teaching”. I’m having to teach while I try and work every day.”
“I’m not sure how I feel about sending them back before the end of the year”
“Lack of social interaction, routine and sufficient stimulation”
“School is about social and sport interaction and not just academics”
“Getting proper education. Can’t spend enough time to assist with homeschool because I work during the day”
“I am not willing to put my child back in school until 2021. But for older children I feel schools must reopen under strict protocols. I work with children with learning barriers and this is setting them back even further. Others rely on food from schools.”
“My child is losing the sense of discipline and structure school provides The lines are blurred now, and I am now the horrible teacher and not the comforting mom – it’s unfair”
“They will not be safe… teachers won’t be able to handle all the necessary precautions for social distancing.”