The founder of the One South Africa Movement, Mmusi Maimane, has vowed to fight the reopening of schools at the Constitutional Court.
Maimane has collected over 180 000 online petitions opposing the reopening of schools and has since approached the Constitutional Court to suspend the return to classes for another 60 days.
He says, “On behalf of the One SA Movement and the over 180 000 South Africans who have signed our petition online, we reject the idea that the schools should be opened in haste. We have decided to take the matter to the Constitutional Court where we are asking the court to play a supervisory role…”
“We know that many schools in our country still don’t have water, we know that they don’t have PPEs and therefore it is a high risk to take our children and put them back into schools where they can be at the risk of being infected by COVID-19 and ultimately go into communities where infections could rise,” added Maimane.
On Monday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said teachers from schools that have received personal protective equipment (PPEs) and have met health standards must return to work for induction during the course of this week.
Speaking during a media briefing in Rustenburg, in the North West, Motshekga said schools must resume operations next Monday, June 8, 2020.
Motshekga said: “We resolved that teachers whose schools have received personal protective equipment will be expected to report to work on June 1. So, we are expecting teachers to come today. As late as Saturday, there were schools that did not receive their PPEs from the provinces. So we have agreed that we must finalize all deliveries of PPEs to schools and the outstanding provision of water and sanitation. Teachers and support staff should be inducted and orientated for the new environment brought by COVID-19.”
Classes have, however, resumed in the Western Cape.
She also said her department might have to approach National Treasury to finance the employment of more teachers once more grades are phased in at schools across the country.
Motshekga said dividing up classes to allow for fewer students is one of the measures that schools have to put into place to safeguard pupils from contracting COVID-19.
“We anticipate a major challenge, we really want to estimate to say you had 5 Grade 12s, now we have to turn them into eight classes, which means you are using your Grade 11 teachers to do that. If we phase in Grade 11 it means the Grade 10 teachers are going to come in. So what we are looking at in provinces is to look at our relief teachers…”
“The issue is going to be the resources to say if we take them in we have to discuss with the Treasury to say how we pay them. When we start phasing in Grades 8 and 9 there’s going to be a major problem. We are working on plans and I do hope that when we get to that level we will be able to get help from the Treasury,” says Motshekga.
Matric rewrites to be written in December
The Department also says the May/June Amended Senior Certificate (old matric) and National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination will now be written in December.
The exams, initially scheduled to start on 4 May, were postponed in April due to the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 350 000 part-time candidates, who include those who did not meet the pass requirements in the 2019 final exams, as well as those who sought to rewrite to improve their marks are meant to sit for the exam.
“So we have given the directives formally that the May/June 2020 examination for candidates who registered for senior certificate and the national certificate is going to be administered in December. So those are your adult learners or your part-time learners. So we had to agree with Umalusi, which is our examining body, and we will only assess those learners in December.”
Motshekga urges anxious parents to apply for home-schooling
Motshekga has again urged parents and guardians, who are anxious about their children returning to school amid the coronavirus pandemic, to apply for home-schooling. She has apologized for rescheduling Sunday night’s press briefing on whether schools would reopen on Monday.
Motshekga says schools must resume operations on June 8 and learners are obliged to return.
“There have been questions about parents who still feel anxious about sending their kids to school because they are not very sure about their safety. A parent who chooses not to send their children to school must apply to the head of the provincial education department, who in terms of the SA School Act, can exempt a learner entirely, partially, or conditionally from compulsory attendance.”