Cabinet to make final decision on closing of all schools in South Africa

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga says that cabinet will make a final pronouncement on the closure of South African schools due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in a virtual National Council of Provinces meeting on Tuesday (21 July), Motshekga said that parents and members of the education community have ‘divergent views’ on whether the country’s schools should remain open or closed.

“After solid consultations in the past week, and after the cabinet’s approval, we will be able to indicate what should happen in the sector in the face of an ongoing spike in (coronavirus) infections.

“There are also loud voices saying that we should close schools. The debate has become (moot) now in the sense that we have agreed as a sector that we will listen to everybody and take a fair decision.

“We will definitely come with a consensus position as soon as the cabinet has given approval.”

Education union Naptosa has published the details of a meeting it held with the Department of Basic Education last week, including the general consensus reached by the country’s major teacher unions.

It further outlined a number of proposals, which were agreed to with other unions, around the closing of schools:

  • Schools should be closed with immediate effect to allow the peak and winter to pass. The system should use this time to attend to all outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, the provision of water, the building of toilets and additional classes and providing the required number of teachers;
  • Schools should reopen at the end of August 2020 unless the situation dictates otherwise;
  • Education departments should provide teachers with the necessary tools to work from home and prepare work for the reopening of schools and return of learners;
  • Grade 12s should be prioritised and different modes to assist them while they are at home should be investigated. Grade 12s should return on Monday, 17 August 2020;
  • The DBE and stakeholders should discuss the curriculum post this calendar year, focusing on reading for the remaining months of 2020;
  • The Department of Higher Education and Training should be engaged to consider late registration for first years in 2021;
  • All stakeholders should focus on advocacy campaigns, educating the nation about this invisible enemy but also urging them to follow all precautionary measures, including staying at home.

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Cabinet to make final decision on closing of all schools in South Africa