The education teacher’s unions and national governing body associations are calling on all schools, even those that might be ready to re-open, having received all the necessary materials for teachers and learners, not to re-open until the non-negotiables have been delivered to all schools.
This was announced on Friday in a joint statement by the National School Governing Body Associations (Federation of School Governing Bodies of South Africa, National Association of School Governing Bodies and the Governing Body Foundation) and education trade unions (SADTU, NAPTOSA, SAOU, PEU and NATU).
It followed their meeting that took place on Friday to consider and discuss the state of readiness of schools to re-open Monday. The education stakeholders said the information gained from members of the Unions and Associations on the ground guided the discussions and led to a unanimous position that the education system, as matters currently stand, is not ready for the re-opening of schools.
“Section 28(2) of the Constitution provides that the best interests of children are of paramount importance in every matter concerning children. Whilst we acknowledge that the right to basic education and the necessity for children to return to schools are extremely important rights and considerations, these considerations cannot trump the best interest principle entrenched in the Constitution. We do not believe it to be in the best interest of children to return to schools when we know that uncertainty concerning their health and safety reigns,” read the statement.
They continued to say most provincial departments have not been able to deliver Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or at least sufficient PPEs, for all returning school management team members and teachers.
“PPEs for learners have not arrived at schools, despite earlier assurances that they are housed in warehouses in the provinces. Many schools have not been cleaned and disinfected as per the direction of the Department of Employment and Labour. Today (Friday) is the last working day before schools are due to open on Monday. If the PPEs have not been delivered by now, chances are slim that all schools will have them on Monday.”
The education stakeholders said as a collective they wish to highlight their rejection of a staggered opening of schools.
“No school must be left behind, especially not because of incompetence and tardiness. Given the historical injustices of the past it is obvious which schools will be left behind should a staggered approach to schools reopening be followed. This we cannot allow no matter the justification,” they said.
They further stated that the amended curriculum has, yet, not been provided to schools.