South Africa: We Have Cautiously Opened Schools, Now We Must Open Possibilities for Learning


There are some small-scale examples in South Africa which help us imagine what we could achieve if we harness our available education resources to reduce the divide by opening up supportive learning - where teachers and children stay safe, no school is left behind, and where learning remains possible.

The last few weeks have seen our vibrant democracy in action. Our education departments consulted and made plans. The plan was revised based on feedback from health experts. Our Minister of Basic Education made announcements. Parents expressed themselves in public and private. Five trade unions and three SGB associations raised formal objections to the plan. Press briefings were delayed. Plans were adjusted. One province insisted on opening their schools. Courts were petitioned. Legal cases were heard.

It is not easy. And no process is perfect. Many remain voiceless. There is no on-off switch for schooling. The question of whether or not to re-open school under Covid-19 has presented multiple dilemmas

Today they have reached an agreement (albeit tentative and involving compromise) which involves 13.4% of our learners. Grade 7 children may return to primary school, provided that their school is safe and ready to meet the minimum health and safety standards....

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