Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was expected to return to the National Coronavirus Command Council today, before discussing her department’s national recovery plan on Thursday.
She is also set to address the country on an approach to and possible timeline for the reopening of schools, on Thursday. Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Motshekga held several meetings with stakeholders in the basic education sector: “The purpose of the meetings was to consider the state of readiness for the reopening of schools.”
He said she met with the council of education ministers and MECs, teacher union representatives, school governing body associations and the South African Principals Association.
Lorraine Botha, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on education, said a preliminary academic recovery plan should consist of five phases: “The first phase will involve adhering to Covid-19 crisis management requirements, implementing a teachers’ assistance and performance standard, along with time-tabling guidance. The final phase will entail teaching of a new adapted curriculum to all grades.”
Botha said the plan, as discussed by the provincial department, was subject to decisions made by the National Coronavirus Command Council. “Before we can move forward, Motshekga needs to address core issues, including the transportation of learners to school, existing issues pertaining the overcrowding of classrooms and accommodating learners with special needs,” Botha added.
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said it would not encourage its members to return to work until the minimum Covid-19 safety requirements are met. According to Maluleke, personal protective equipment has not been procured for school administrators, teachers and support staff.
“The disinfecting of schools and offices have not even reached 25%. It is unlawful to expect workers to report for duty when their safety is not guaranteed. The union has an obligation to advise members not to put their safety, and that of their families, in danger before these safety precautions are in place,” he said.
The ANC’s provincial spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed, added: “The Western Cape Education Department is placing our children’s future and the lives of teachers in danger by hastily opening these facilities without proper clearance or plans to ease the process.”