For the majority or learners, Matric is the most challenging year of their school careers – even under normal circumstances. The current circumstances facing the Class of 2020 are unprecedented, and have caused massive upheaval on top of the challenges they would ordinarily have faced. Even so, there are ways learners can adjust and respond to ensure they still make a success of the year, an education expert says.
“When some speak in the media about the year being a ‘write-off’, it is easy to be even more anxious. What they are trying to communicate is how difficult it is going to be to assess progress normally and that a two year perspective should be taken – but even this is not a comfort for Grade 12s who don’t have two years available to them to recover from this,” says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education.
“On top of this, the amount of support available to Matrics before classes can resume is very varied. Even those who are able to get high-quality online or paper-based or televised support are needing to work without the security of the presence of their teachers and peers,” he says.
Ntshinga notes that even then, there are many who don’t have access to the aforementioned resources.
“It is clear that the Department of Basic Education is aware of this and there is little doubt that this group will be the first that will be allowed to return and time will be created to ensure that they can catch up – even if that means moving examinations into December.
“Any individual student is not alone here and can at least draw comfort from the fact that the decision-makers are as worried as you are. It follows that what makes the most sense right now, is to take what you do have and what you must face, and make the most of it so that by the time you get back to whatever the new plan will be – and there will be a plan – you have managed to get ahead of your peers and in front of your own anxiety.”
Ntshinga says that instead of trying to do it all, learners should keep their eyes focused on small victories and goals – getting through today, or a particular chapter, or a past paper are all achievements. Stacked on each other, they will carry learners through.
Ntshinga says getting things done might also call for some creativity on the part of Matrics.
“If you are sharing a small space with your family, and it is hard to get quiet focus time, you might try reaching an agreement with them regarding which times of day they need to give you some peace and quiet for studying,” he says.
“Or you could, for instance, change the times you study – perhaps late at night when everyone else is sleeping, or an hour or two before everyone else wakes up.”
It’s also worth taking some time to get to grips with the actual logistics of learning remotely, Ntshinga says.
“If your school is one of those who have been preparing for digital and online delivery and now offer dedicated learning platforms, it might take some time getting used to the ins and outs of the apps they are using,” he says.
Learners must also resolve to make the most of online classes by showing up, engaging and preparing as they would have for contact classes, he says.
He adds that those learners who do not have access to resources from their schools, should find out about the ones that are generally available, such as classes broadcast via the SABC or through the platforms of some telecoms providers. Learners can also share ideas and resources with friends using WhatsApp.
“If your school was not able to assist you, find someone or something that can – the skill of this investigation is already a life skill that last year’s Matrics did not have to learn the way you do. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis and everything is in a state of change. There is much you can’t control, but you can set yourself up to be prepared to live out your dreams in the new world order. Use this time to expand your vision of what your future might look like,” he says.
“The message is to keep on keeping on, and to spend your days as productively as possible, whatever that may mean for you personally. Focus your energy on what you can do, and keep building your future with small positive achievements every day.”
Issued by: MEROPA COMMUNICATIONS
On behalf of: THE INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION