The Mpumalanga Department of Education says it is ready to resume the third quarter of the academic year in all the public schools in the province.

The department says that all teaching staff began with preparations last week, ahead of tomorrow’s reopening of schools.

Mpumalanga Education spokesperson, Jasper Zwane, says they are optimistic that teaching and learning will proceed without challenges tomorrow in adherence with COVID- 19 health protocols.

“We are pretty optimistic as the Department of Education in Mpumalanga that it would be all systems go. We have made all the necessary provisions to ensure that upon their return all our learners and our teachers should be able to ensure the safety of everyone, at the same time to try to save the academic year,” says Zwane.

Members ready to go back to classrooms: SADTU

Meanwhile, teachers union SADTU’s general secretary Mgwena Maluleke says their members are ready to go back to classrooms tomorrow.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Saturday that her department was ready to welcome learners back at schools.

Maluleke says school management teams went back to work last Thursday.

“Education is an enabler and there is no economic recovery unless education is prioritised and our learners have already lost so much time and that we should be able to support our teachers to be safe at their schools and the other working people. We feel strongly as SADTU that the question of whether ready or not ready is really not fair because other people are working,” says Maluleke.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) residents say they believe that the reopening of schools will help children cope mentally especially after the recent unrest in the province and in Gauteng.

“May they open and may there be a peaceful transaction. I have two children at home they are going crazy. We need life to go back to normal. Things need to happen and we need to be preventative and take precautions. We can’t kill our economy and starve millions as we have seen in the unrest. I feel it will just get worse,” says a parent.

UNICEF calls for schools to reopen

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in South Africa has advised the government to reopen schools on Monday. UNICEF says failure to reopen schools will continue to disadvantage the poorest of the poor.

UNICEF says SA schools have lost a year of learning:

On Saturday Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told the media that her department was ready to reopen schools on Monday.

However, she says President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will address the country on Sunday evening, has the final say.

“Reopen the schools, taking into account that the most vulnerable who are the poorest will be the hardest hit by continued school closures. Let them get the children back to school because they also know how to protect themselves,” says UNICEF South Africa’s chief of education, Wycliff Otieno.

UNICEF says thousands of learners have dropped out of school over the last 16-months.

“UNICEF calls on all stakeholders to ‘Reimagine Education’ to help regain the ground lost, by taking advantage of emerging technologies to accelerate education service delivery, while focusing on equity and broader partnerships for greater impact,” notes UNICEF in a statement.