Makhanda-based government watchdog, the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), says it might not be feasible for the Eastern Cape to reopen all schools given the magnitude of challenges facing the Education Department in the province.

On Tuesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that grade 7 and 12 learners would be going back to school on June 1.

The announcement has been met with mixed reactions, with teacher unions citing concerns over the sanitation of schools and the safety of children.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude, has urged the Education Department to prioritise the safety of learners and teachers.

Education Researcher at PSAM Siyabulela Fobosi says the province needs more time to put in place all the necessary preventative measures.

“There are about 931 schools that do not have water tanks in the province. Social distancing will be impossible at some of the schools, especially those that do not have enough classrooms. Those things would be virtually impossible at schools in rural areas. Before schools reopen, the Department together with Legislature should ensure that everything is in order, not only your urban areas, because I can imagine it’s only in urban areas where schools will be ready, especially your independent schools,” says Fobosi.

The Infographic below highlights safety measures when schools reopen on June 1:

Rural schools facing challenges

Learners who attend schools in rural areas across the country face challenges, as they do not have access to resources for learning at home.

Online learning is one such challenge, as learners do not have laptops or data to catch up with their school work.

One of the schools at a disadvantage is AG Malebe Secondary at Springbokpan in the North West.

Even if there was network coverage, data and devices are too expensive, as outlined in the video below:

-Additional reporting by SABC News.