Schools unprepared for re-opening, says unions

Five teacher unions have expressed doubt over the department of education’s preparedness to re-open schools. The unions conducted their own survey across 9 365 schools.

Minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga

According to a joint statement by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Professional Teachers of South Africa (Naptosa), Professional Educators Union (PEU), the National Teachers Union (Natu) and the South Africa Teachers Union (SAOU), the National Baseline Survey of Principals on School Readiness was done to strengthen the collaboration between the Department of Education and the unions, while verifying the information conveyed by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga . The minister announced on 19 May that schools will reopen, welcoming educators on 25 May and Grades seven and 12 learners on 1 June.

“This survey was completed by principals who are on the ground and are the very army the country depends on to manage schools in conditions of safety,” read the statement.

According to the findings of the survey dated 16 to 18 May:

  • 79 per cent of respondent schools said they had not received any health and safety regulations.
  • 60 per cent of principals said they had not been contacted by circuit managers.
  • 44 per cent of schools said they had no access to water, with the most affected provinces being KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
  • 24 per cent of schools that received water tanks do not know how they will be filled.
  • 92 per cent of schools said offices had yet to be cleaned.
  • 95 per cent of schools said classrooms had not been cleaned.
  • 78 per cent of schools said there was no soap or water to sanitise areas.
  • 94 per cent of schools said that sanitizers had not been delivered.

“The education unions have called for the non-negotiables to be met before the workers can report for duty. This is what must be the preoccupation of the department rather than coercing the stakeholders to agree to unrealistic dates.

“We wish to make it clear that if PPEs (personal protective equipment) have not arrived at schools and the required cleaning has not taken place when teachers return on Monday (25 May), they are not to endanger their lives by entering such schools,” concluded the statement.

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