The Basic Education Department will on Thursday begin to consult education stakeholders on keeping schools open as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies in the country.
The National Teachers Union (NATU) and student organisation COSAS have joined the South African Democratic Teachers Union’s (SADTU) call that schools should close amid the pandemic except for the matric class of 2020.
Minister Angie Motshekga will at the weekend present to Cabinet the outcomes of her consultation with the stakeholders.
The World Health Organisation has cautioned against the reopening of schools in areas with a high rate of coronavirus transmissions.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says schooling has been disrupted in areas with a high number of infections.
The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) has urged Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to consider the call by teacher union, SADTU, to close until after the COVID-19 peak.
It says it fully understands the issues raised by SADTU that some schools are not well equipped to deal with positive cases and are forced to close.
The union has urged Motshekga and the Basic Education Department to find a solution as teachers are also anxious.
“The rate of infection is making it difficult to create a conducive environment of learning and teaching in our schools. We should remember that most of our schools are really struggling. They are poorly resourced. They don’t have the infrastructure to make sure that teachers and learners are safe. We believe that this haphazard approach of having other schools opened while others are being forced to shut down is going to perpetuate the inequalities that we see in our education system,” says COSATU’s Sizwe Pamla.
In the video below, unions discuss the call for schools to shutdown:
COSAS threatens to shut down schools in Free State
Parents and the Free State’s COSAS have also thrown their weight behind SADTU’s proposal.
More than 40 schools across the Free State have had learners and teachers infected with the novel coronavirus.
Free State COSAS Secretary, Tsietsi Mbolekwa, says they will make sure no school operates while the coronavirus infections are expected to surge.
“We are clear as COSAS and we are going to shut down all schools in the Free State. If there are any schools that are operating, we are going to make sure that we attend that school and shut it down. We are representing learners. We are representing our own constituency. We care for their lives. So, we are very clear as Congress of South African Students, learners, you must not go back to school.