Congress of the People (COPE) says it welcomes the decision by the Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise to allow an urgent debate next month on the state of education in South Africa.
The debate was requested by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Thursday that schools will be closed for a month due to the escalating number of coronavirus infections.
Matrics and Grade 7 will however be returning earlier. COPE national spokesperson Dennis Bloem says the debate is long overdue.
“The World Health Organisation never said coronavirus will only target public schools and that private schools are safe. This is totally unacceptable. 26 years in our democracy and we still don’t have one basic education system. It is disgusting and an insult to the majority of people in this country. It is very urgent that parliament must correct this disgraceful situation. It is our responsibility to address this inequality in our country, says Bloem.
SA public schools to close
President Cyril Ramaphosa says after consultations with different stakeholders, the government has decided to close public schools for four weeks.
President Ramaphosa says while it was difficult to find consensus on which approach is best, they agreed that the health of learners and teachers must remain a priority.
The President says the move is also in line with the WHO guidelines, which warned countries not to reopen schools while local transmissions of the coronavirus are on the rise.
“Cabinet has decided today that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks, now this has also been an experience in a number of other countries where schools have opened and also had to close, due to the circumstances that each country has had to confront. This means that schools will be closed from the 27th of July and will reopen on the 24th of August.”
Director of Research Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute Angelo Fick analyses the President’s address:
However, Ramaphosa says grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a week break. While grade 7s will be on recess for two weeks.
He says the current academic year will be extended to the end of the year and the Basic Education Minister will give a way forward on this.
The National School Feeding Scheme will continue during the recess. The President says learners or their parents can collect meals from the schools.
One SA Leader Mmusi Maimane reacts to the closure of public schools: