Schools: 8 June it is, says Basic Education Minister

Schools across the country were at differentiated states of readiness to re-open for Gr 7 and Gr 12 learners today. Learning and teaching will resume in the country on 8 June.

This was earlier confirmed by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, who after yet another postponed media briefing yesterday, addressed the nation from the Sunrise View Secondary School in Rustenburg earlier this morning.

After the minister confirmed the date for the re-opening of schools as 1 June around two weeks ago, teacher unions have come out saying that government could simply not deliver on its own mandate in terms of among other things, getting the required Personal Protective Equipment to schools in time.

This morning, Motshekga said many schools were not ready. “In most schools, we still need this week to mop up.  Learners, parents and teachers must be inducted. Personal Protective Equipment must be delivered, and issues of water and sanitation must still be finalised.”

“We must adhere to all the measures not only in terms of health and safety, but also in terms of children’s rights.  The right to education is a right we should protect,” she said. 

She apologised for the inconvenience caused after it became unclear on Sunday evening, whether or not Gr 7 and Gr 12 learners should return to school.  She announced that schools that were ready to open, should use this week for induction purposes.

After the return-to-school dates had been gazetted on Friday, Motshekga on Saturday met with unions representative until close to midnight in looking at school readiness.  A day earlier, a joint statement was issued by teacher unions and school body association on the readiness of schools to re-open.

The National School Governing Body Associations met with education trade unions Sadtu, Naptosa, SAOU, PEU and Natu on 28 May to consider schools’ state of readiness. According to the statement, information led them to the conclusion that schools were not ready to open and they believed this would also not be in the best interest of children and educators, as their health and safety would be compromised.

“Most provincial departments have not been able to deliver PPE for all returning school management team members and teachers. PPE has not been delivered despite earlier assurances that they are housed in warehouses in the province, and many schools have not yet been cleaned and disinfected,” the statement reads.

“Today is the last working day before schools are due to open on Monday.  If PPE has not been delivered by now, chances are slim that schools will have them by Monday,” they continued. The unions were united in their belief that ‘no school must be left behind’ especially not because of incompetence and tardiness. They furthermore said a revised curriculum had also not yet been provided to schools.

They demanded that the minister retracted the date of 1 June for the re-opening of schools and by early last evening, teacher union Sadtu was among those who called for teachers and learners not to return to school today.  The unions furthermore called on schools that did receive the necessary PPE, to not open today as a show of solidarity.

This morning, the minister announced that a review of the school calendar, curriculum and core programmes was necessary.

“We have been working with experts in terms of the re-engineering the school curriculum.  We will make announcements in this regard, in due course,” she said.


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