Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the 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.

Teachers belonging to schools that have received Personal Protective Equipment and met health standards – must return to work for induction during the course of this week.

Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners will return on June 8 and schools must resume operations. Classes have, however, resumed in the Western Cape.

Speaking during a media briefing in Rustenburg, in the North West, Motshekga says 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 anticipating a major challenge we really want to estimate to say you had 5 grade 12s. Now we have to turn them into eight, which means you are using your grade 11 teachers to do that so 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 Treasury to say how a do 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 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 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 apologised for rescheduling last night’s press briefing on whether schools would reopen on Monday.

 Motshekga says schools must resume operations next Monday, 8 June and that 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.”

Safety at schools 

Motshekga says it is the responsibility of provincial governments across the country to obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and meet health standards in order for learners to return to school next week. Motshekga says teachers belonging to schools that have received the necessary equipment and met health standards – must return to work for induction during the course of this week.

“The only thing that we are procuring as national is water in partnership with the Department of Water and Sanitation and even there it’s a joint responsibility.  There are water tankers that provinces are procuring.  We are supplementing what provinces are procuring but in terms of relationships with suppliers, it’s provinces that would have appointed the suppliers.  So it’s provinces that are supposed to manage the suppliers, all we do is to monitor.”

COVID files

 Motshekga says schools must keep COVID-19 files to record their work plan and incidents affecting the institution amid the pandemic.

“In keeping with the focus on health and safety, the directives clearly state that all offices and schools must develop a work plan. In the schools I have visited in the country, I did find COVID-19 files and we urge all schools to comply in this regard. Parents and guardians must not send learners to school if learners show any of the coronavirus symptoms. The screening of symptoms must be conducted at offices or schools according to the Department of Health guidelines.”

Below is Minister Angie Motshekga’s briefing: