Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has gazetted the new school regulations, which are likely to pave the way for private schools to open on the first of next month.
Earlier this month, government announced that public and private schools should delay opening by two weeks. There will soon be clarity on when private schools will open.
There was uncertainty about how the announcement would apply to private schools since some had already started contact classes. Public schools will resume classes on the 15th of next month.
Consultation with stakeholders
Teacher union National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa’s (Naptosa), Basil Manuel, says they favour a delay in resuming classes.
“Naptosa has always been adamant that we will support anything that enhances the health and safety of our members and our children. And if the science is saying there is no wisdom in opening schools now, that is what we support and we hope that soon, thereafter, we will have some normality where schools can start to return, but we are in full support of the cautious approach.”
NAPTOSA supports calls to delay reopening of schools:
The student body, Congress of South African Students (Cosas), claims that there is consensus among Basic Education stakeholders on the delay because of rapidly rising COVID-19 infections, especially among young people.
Cosas spokesperson, Douglas Ngobeni, says the delay won’t adversely impact the school timetable and the finalisation of the matric results.
He says the health of teachers and learners should come first.
“We have agreed with the Department of Basic Education that there would be a two-week delay of the reopening of schools necessary with the provisions of the second wave of COVID- 19. Our teachers are dying because of this virus and we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where our learners follow suit.”
Saving teachers’ jobs
But the National Alliance of Independent Schools Association says it is not prudent to postpone the opening of schools. The Association’s Mandla Mthembu says they are not opposed to it but have other things to consider like saving teaching jobs.
Mthembu says while online education is an option, it is not as effective as a traditional class.
“The delay may impact independent schools adversely in the sense that already last year we saw how the schools lost revenue because of nonpayment of fees and also many teachers were retrenched. We don’t want to see more teachers retrenched. We could adopt the same approach where independent schools continued to operate when public schools were closed.”
Some independent schools opened their doors last week: