By: Johan Kleu, Executive Head of Momentum Multiply
The Covid-19 pandemic and the various stages of lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the virus had a profound effect on learners of school-going age. Since March 2020, institutions of learning have undergone dramatic change. While some made the transition towards remote learning, others employed a rotational learning system. Yet, others still simply had no immediate alternative to traditional classroom-based, face-to-face learning.
The pandemic has highlighted the country’s growing need to promote better education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as well as the essential nature of student support.
According to the National Income Dynamics Study, learners in the foundation and intermediary phase lost up to 75% of their schooling year due to lockdown restrictions as their schools lacked the resources to offer alternatives to face-to-face education.
The same study reported that between 400 000 and 500 000 leaners dropped out of school over the past 16 months. As the Department of Basic Education (DOB) gazetted the impact of Covid-19 in the schools, 20 years of gains made in the education sector have been compromised by the onset of the pandemic.
Furthermore, the pandemic has emphasised the important role that nurses, doctors and scientists play in the survival of society. For over two decades, African institutions have been advocating for an enhanced focus on the areas of STEM education with a particular focus on gender and racial equality.
Yet, it will take more than just learning institutions to pull South African education in line with global STEM standards. It will require a concerted effort from all corners of the economy.
Johan Kleu at Momentum Multiply says, “Developing STEM education is a South African imperative – one that we are supporting as Momentum Multiply. Our partner, the A+Students franchise, specialises in abacus and mental arithmetic training and the mathematical application of that literacy. At a time when our education system needs support from both the public and private sectors, we’re doing what we can to contribute towards positive change.”
The record high youth unemployment rate in South Africa has highlighted the need not only for better primary and secondary education, but also the need for preparedness programmes for tertiary education and career development in the “new normal.”
Schools and education institutions have a significant role to play in preparing learners for tertiary education and the world of work, which has changed drastically due to the effects of the pandemic and within the context of a turbulent labour market in South Africa and worldwide.
As Kleu explains, “Leaving school and embarking on a career path or enrolling in tertiary education is not always a clear-cut choice. Learners have different circumstances, interests and competencies to consider. Career guidance can be an invaluable tool for self-improvement and we’ve seen this in the programme presented by Online Career Guidance, another offering accessible to Multiply members. Here learners, teachers, parents and professionals can get sound guidance on how to navigate the challenges of the working world for a discounted fee.”