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Recently in the Press: Four Contributions by RESEP Researchers


In an effort to provide expert opinions, as well as assist in guiding public discussions around socio-economic policy, such as education, and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press contributions of RESEP researchers have increased markedly over the past several months.


Writing for The Conversation, RESEP PhD student, Nonpumelelo Mohohlwane, draws on her research to propose three potential directions for policy related to the roles of African languages and English in South Africa’s basic education system. The first suggestion is to continue as per the status quo (mother-tongue up to grade 4), the second is an extension of mother-tongue instruction to grade 6, and the third is to provide mother-tongue instruction for the full curriculum to matric.


Gabrielle Wills (RESEP), Leila Patel (UJ) and Servaas van der Berg (RESEP) also recently published in The Conversation. Their article outlines recent findings from research undertaken as part of the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM). The contribution covers issues of food security and economic recovery in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to offset its impact.


A third contribution for The Conversation was made by RESEP head, Servaas van der Berg. Van der Berg’s contribution is an opinion piece for a wider audience based on an earlier paper. In the piece, Van der Berg assesses the risks associated with opening schools during the pandemic and compares South Africa’s ‘normal’ mortality risk in 2016 to that under COVID-19 to establish that the risk to school-age children is low as per the original study. Van der Berg goes on to compare this risk with the high cost to children of school closures.


Writing for the Daily Maverick, RESEP researcher, Nic Spaull, discusses why keeping schools open in fact contributes to the fight against COVID-19. In particular, Spaull provides 6 crucial reasons for keeping schools open, including access to school feeding programmes, the cost of opening the economy and not opening schools, and the lack of evidence to suggest that teachers or students are at any higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than the average.