As thousands of learners return to school on Monday after the schools closed again for a month amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there is also great concern about the readiness of many schools to reopen.
Gr. 12 learners returned to school at the beginning of the month, gr. 7s followed ŉ week later and gr. 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 6-, 9-, 10- and 11-learners return tomorrow. Schools for learners with physical and learning disabilities may also reopen. Learners in gr. 5 and gr. 8 may only return to school a week later, on 31 August.
In KwaZulu-Natal, many schools are apparently still waiting for temporary teachers and additional teachers to be assigned to schools, as well as for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be delivered.
Thembeni Mdlopha Mthethwa, the IFP’s KwaZulu-Natal leader, says if this is the case, the consequences will be nothing short of disastrous.
Mthethwa says the province’s MEC for education, Kwazi Mshengu, must play open cards and give parents and teachers the assurance that everything is ready for learners’ return.
“We can not afford a situation where teachers are made the scapegoat when things go wrong at schools. This while the MEC and department heads walk away unscathed while they are the ones who have failed to give proper guidance. The education department needs to start doing things differently. ”
Mthethwa says Mshengu must give clear time indications of when relief teachers will be sent to schools, when PPEs will be delivered, how many schools will still be without this equipment, how social distances will be maintained in classes (also during the transport of learners), how nutrition schemes in operation and which schools still use pit toilets.
Mpumalanga MEC for education, Bonakele Majuba, meanwhile, said he was confident that everything possible had been done to make education possible and to protect lives.
He thanked officials and others involved who have recently helped ensure that schools are ready for learners’ return.