My Covid Journey: Minister Schäfer launches competition to recognise learners’ experiences of the pandemic

In celebration of International School Library Month, which took place during October, the WCED will again hold a school library competition in which learners can help their school win R25 000 to spend on school library resources.

This year, it will take the form of a poetry competition, with the theme of “My Covid Journey”. I chose this theme in acknowledgement of the profound impact that the pandemic has had on our learners. I was therefore extremely excited to visit Laerskool Laurus in Oudtshoorn earlier this year to celebrate the start of National Book Week, only to find that some of the school’s learners read poems they had written themselves, including one on Covid-19 by a Grade 3 learner.

I have been particularly struck by the resilience of our learners despite the changing learning environment, and despite the personal tragedies that so many have experienced as a result of the pandemic. We need to recognise this impact, and also provide an opportunity for learners to express how they are feeling about it, to help them to heal from the mental and emotional trauma it has caused them. It is my hope that all of our schools will participate in this exercise, regardless of whether they win a prize or not, because it is immensely valuable to touch base with their learners about how they are coping at the moment.

We have suggested a few questions to guide learners in writing their poems:

How do you feel about the Covid-19 pandemic?

How has it affected you and your school?

How has it affected your family and friends?

How do we move forward from here and how can your school library help?

Each school can collate as many poems from the learners at their school as they like, to form a single entry for submission. Six schools will be awarded a prize of R25 000 each to spend on library resources – an increase in prize money from last year. Three secondary schools will receive R25 000 each for winning entries in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and three primary schools will receive R25 000 each for winning entries in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.

The closing date for the competition is 30 November 2021, and a minute regarding the competition will be sent out to schools soon. In the meantime, any school interested in entering can contact Timothy Cloete from Education Library and Information Services (EDULIS) for more information: [email protected](link sends e-mail)

Last year’s winners

I’d also like to highlight the winners of last year’s competition, which invited schools to send written submissions from their learners celebrating the teachers of our province who worked so hard during the tense 2020 school year using the theme of “My Octopus Teacher”. Unfortunately, due to the various disruptions in the calendar, we didn’t receive as many entries as we would have liked, but the entries we did receive were wonderful and deserving of a prize.

The following schools each received R20 000 towards library resources:

Brandenburg PS

Fairmount HS

Gansbaai PS

Garlandale PS

Isalathiso PS

John Graham PS

Congratulations to each of these schools, and to the learners for celebrating their teachers in this way!

I encourage all schools to participate in this year’s competition, and look forward to seeing how our learners express themselves as we face the continuing challenge of schooling during a pandemic.

Source: Government of South Africa