The National Teachers’ Union (NATU) says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was lax in her detail of how the department intends to increase the number of teachers at school, as more grades are set to resume learning on Monday.
Grade 6 and 11 will return on Monday, but only schools that are ready to receive Grade R should do so. However, Minister Motshekga has said all Grade R learners must be back at school by the end of July.
NATU President Allen Thompson says as more grades are being phased in more teachers will be needed as class sizes will be reduced. He adds that there is also bound to be a shortage of teachers as those with comorbidities have been urged to remain at home.
“Here we have very critical issues of overcrowded classes, critical issues of the department failing to employ additional teachers after we’ve agreed on the maximum class of 20 learners. We have agreed that those teachers with comorbidities must remain at home and we will have to find substitutes for such people, now the department is deciding unilaterally to phase in other grades there is no mechanism again that has been put in place. We only had two grades, people were moving around like headless chickens not knowing what is supposed to happen.”
The National Professional Teachers Oganisation (Naptosa) has expressed concern over Minister Motshekga’s failure to outline a plan to provide psycho-social support for learners and teachers in the midst of rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.
The union says a teacher or learner testing positive has an immense psychological impact on the whole school and the parents.
“What she misses out on is the psychological impact of a positive case, what that has on the broader school community including the rest of the teachers and yes, of course, there have been relatively but you haven’t seen how people have crumbled just from the idea that somebody within their midst has tested positive and there has been a sore lack of psycho-social support for our teachers and by extension our learners as well,” says Naptosa’s Basil Manuel.
Motshekga says 4% of schools nationwide were forced to close and re-open because of COVID-19 since classes resumed for Grades seven and 12 on 8 June. Motshekga says this amounts to 968 of the country’s 26 000 schools.
The Minister says less than point one percent of learners were affected by coronavirus outbreaks since classes resumed and three learners have died, some of whom were not at school.