SA Journal of Education, Volume 43, Supplement 1, December 2023

COVID-19 impact on support services in South African full-service schools: Views of support structures

Thabo Makhalemele, Pateka Pamella Jama


The 4 world-wide waves of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) unsettled schooling, and the consequences were immeasurable as schools had to close and the eventual return to schools was staggered to reduce the possibility of infection. Due to the pandemic, the provision of support services was disrupted, and learners struggled to reach their academic goals and achieve success within their schools. Full-service schools are schools that are equipped to support learners who need a moderate level of support for their learning. In this article we explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of learning support services in South African full-service schools. A qualitative approach was followed, and open-ended questionnaires and interviews generated data. Thirty teachers serving in the school-based support teams (SBSTs) from full-service schools and 12 district-based support team (DBSTs) officials from 3 South African provinces participated in this research. The findings indicate that challenges in rendering learner support during the COVID-19 pandemic in full-service schools, inadequate handling of the referral process, and insufficient capacitation for support services during COVID-19 restricted the efficiency of support services. We suggest learner support interventions be made to address the needs of learners experiencing challenges neglected during the pandemic as it created gaps in their learning.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Thabo Makhalemele –
Pateka Pamella Jama -

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