Covid puts brakes on tutoring in Tafelsig

Mitchell’s Plain pupils at AK Snapshots Study Group.

National Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are barring a Tafelsig-based study group from tutoring disadvantaged Mitchell’s Plain pupils.

Andrew Koopman has been co-ordinating AK Snapshots Study Group for 16 years in Tafelsig and has been at Searidge Primary School for the past four years.

Mr Koopman is reaching out to his contacts for a place to tutor 178 pupils during the week, from 4pm to 6pm, and on a Saturday, from 9am until noon.

“There are more wanting to come, but we can only accommodate so much,” he said.

They have 12 tutors and three online tutors, who teach on WhatsApp, but few pupils have data to access this resource.

“We fail to see how we cannot emulate the school in the process of allowing pupils access and operate safely,” he said. “Our pupils need our services, and we are willing to maintain and observe current lockdown rules,” he said, emphasising the urgency of the matter.

“We pray and plea that logic and rational reasoning will prevail with the future of our precious pupils in mind.”

Tutors volunteer their time and expertise to teach pupils who cannot afford private tuition and data to learn online.

“It would be tragic to disadvantage our hardworking and dedicated pupils by not affording them the opportunity to augment and further their education.”

The study group is compiling a book to guide, inspire and assist pupils and institutions who have limited or no resources.

Bronagh Hammond, spokeswoman for the Western Cape Education Department, said the Department of Basic Education released the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the management and containment of Covid-19 for schools and school communities in May.

“In this document, it states: ‘Entry by visitors, parents, and vendors is prohibited unless it is essential’.

“Subsequent SOPs have included access control measures for parents and visitors but do not address vendors specifically,” she said.

Ms Hammond said the country was still in a state of national disaster and therefore the safety of pupils and teachers was paramount.

“While we have great appreciation for the work that many of our external service providers offer, we need to be cognizant of the fact that the risks associated with the virus are very much still with us. Recent increases in cases in certain areas have heightened this concern,” she said.

Ms Hammond said the department would communicate to schools should there be any changes.