South Africa: Motshekga Delays Briefing On Readiness of Schools to Reopen

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga gives an update on the preparations for the re-opening of schools during a media briefing held at Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria on May 19, 2020.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has rescheduled a much anticipated briefing on the state of schools' readiness to reopen, amid ongoing consultations.

Motshekga was expected to address the nation on Sunday evening.

On Saturday, Motshekga met with unions who are convinced the education system is not ready to resume on Monday, News24 reported earlier.

School governing bodies and unions believe it is not in the best interests of children and teachers to return to schools while there is uncertainty about health and safety.

They have argued that not all schools have received deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for pupils and staff, and that many schools have not yet been cleaned or disinfected.

On Friday, the Department of Education gazetted the new schedule of the school calendar which outlines that Grade 7 and 12s will return on Monday, followed by other grades from July and August.

The minister is expected to brief the nation at Sunrise View Secondary School in Rustenburg, North West, at 11:00 on Monday.

Schools were expected to reopen from Monday after being closed for more that 60 days, but some private schools have taken decision not to, Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa) told News24.

In a written reply to News24 on Sunday, Isasa's executive director Lebogang Montjane said it was within an independent school's right to open or not.

It was in their discretion to follow their own calendar, provided they met the minimum number of school days as set out in regulations, he said.

While the directives by the minister have been clear that all schools follow the calendar in terms of phasing in grades, Montjane said Motshekga had been consistent that independent, special and small schools - due to their nature and sizes - could phase pupils back differently.

Montjane added that, as things currently stood, independent schools were bound by the directives issued by Motshekga on Friday, meaning that if independent schools wanted to have pupils return to school on Monday, they could only allow Grade 7 and 12s.

"In our meeting with the minister this morning (Sunday), she informed Isasa that further directions may be issued to take account of the Level 3 regulatory framework.

"It is important to note that the majority of independent schools are currently in session, albeit remotely. Some schools have taken a conservative view on when they will return learners to the school premises and have opted not to open tomorrow (Monday)," Montjane said.

Source: News24

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