South African Human Rights Commission’s Andre Gaum says There is a growing body of international and local research that indicates devastating and long-term effects for young children not reading and writing for extended periods.
The South African Human Rights Commission says government should provide educational materials for learners to work with at home during the four-week break.
On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that schools would take a break from Monday to August 24 – but that Grades seven and 12 would take shorter breaks as the coronavirus infection rate increased.
Ramaphosa also said the academic year would be extended beyond the end of 2020 to make up for lost time during the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the school nutrition programme would continue and learners could collect food directly from the school.
The commission’s Andre Gaum has described the closure of schools as regrettable and unjustifiable.
“What we also have a problem with is that this has been announced as a break. There is a growing body of international and local research that indicates devastating and long-term effects for young children not reading and writing for extended periods so the Commission will go forward in terms of our own monitoring, concentrate not only on the delivery of food to all 9 million learners who qualify for that but we will also concentrate on the delivery of learning materials to learners who are still at home.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund says at least 40-million children across the globe did not receive early learning education during their pre-school year.
This is because Covid-19 has resulted in the closure of daycare centres and preschools.
According to a study, the pandemic threatens a child’s socio-emotional and cognitive stimulation.
The study produced by the UNICEF Office of Research also indicates that lockdowns have forced many parents scramble to balance child care and paid employment, with a disproportionate burden on women who, on average, spend three times as much time as men on care and housework.
The lockdowns have also revealed a deeper crisis for families with young children, especially in low and middle-income countries, many of whom were already unable to access social protection services.
The study advises governments and employers to ensure that all children have access to quality, affordable and accessible child care, regardless of their family situation.
This includes paid parental leave for all parents and flexible working arrangements.