Cape Town – Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the decision to reopen schools has been backed by all school governing bodies.
This follows her consultation with stakeholders last week on the issue of whether to continue with the reopening of schools or shut them down.
Motshekga, who was tabling her department’s budget vote in Parliament yesterday, said they have consulted on the issue of schools.
Motshekga said there had been consultations on schools to remain open and that SGBs in all provinces backed that decision.
“The decision to close or not comes out of that space if you don’t know,” said Motshekga.
Her comments come as many parents, teachers, and some civil society bodies are still anxious and are keen to establish if the schools will shut down amid the Covid-19 peak expected next month.
But Motshekga stuck to her guns saying the decision to open schools had been discussed and supported by SGBs.
Meanwhile, she told MPs that the question of infrastructure had clouded the issue of learning and teaching.
Many schools are dilapidated and there have been calls for the government to fix collapsing schools.
The government has been under pressure to do away with mud schools.
However, Motshekga said to reopen schools was a decision taken by the Council for Education of Ministers (CEM).
The council comprises Motshekga and nine provincial MECs of education.
She said this was a collective decision and the CEM fully endorsed it.
It was not about her but about the decision of the council that had agreed to the plan.
Sadtu and other teachers’ unions have criticised the government for the reopening of schools and called for Motshekga to shut down schools.
They said there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases with hundreds of learners and teachers infected.
They warned that this would affect learning.
Lulama Ntshayisa of the African Independent Congress said the government was caught in the dilemma of schools reopening.
He said this was a difficult decision, but warned that in some schools there was no personal protective equipment.
Manzoor Shaik Emam of the NFP described the decision to reopen schools as reckless and said the government must take responsibility for anything that happens.
Desiree van der Walt of the DA said the government cannot be held hostage by the unions.
She said Motshekga was the custodian of education and not the unions.