Motshekga 'misleading public' about reopening schools: teachers' unions


Motshekga is set to provide final dates, as well as detailed plans for the phased approach “to the possible reopening of schools” at Thursday's briefing, which would come after discussions with the national coronavirus command council and the cabinet.​ Motshekga is set to provide final dates, as well as detailed plans for the phased approach “to the possible reopening of schools” at Thursday's briefing, which would come after discussions with the national coronavirus command council and the cabinet.​
Image: Cebisile Mbonani

SA's five teachers' unions have expressed reservations over basic education minister Angie Motshekga's decision to address the nation on Thursday, when she is expected to outline her department's preparations for the reopening of schools.

''We wish to state that for the minister to address the nation before addressing all the areas that are still not compliant will further erode the confidence in the public education system," the unions said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday night.

They were reporting back to members on a meeting with Motshekga on Monday over the state of readiness to reopen schools.

Motshekga is set to provide final dates, as well as detailed plans for the phased approach “to the possible reopening of schools” at Thursday's briefing, which would come after discussions with the national coronavirus command council and the cabinet.​

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The unions - Natu, Naptosa, PEU, Sadtu and SAOU - said the manner in which the department is conducting itself on the consultations "is causing a trust deficit with the unions and this must be addressed".

"The DBE [department of basic education] must desist from misleading the public about unions having agreed on everything," they said.




The unions were told that only Gauteng and Western Cape schools are ready to reopen.

"The unions emphatically told the minister that even the two provinces claiming to be ready were not ready if they were going to use the school management teams (SMTs) as screeners," they said.

The unions said the meeting agreed to use the whole of this week to allow the provinces to comply with the non-negotiables.

"We agreed that schools must be having the essentials, such as PPE [personal protective equipment], sanitisers and education support personnel to help the SMTs to prepare to receive the teachers," they said.

It was agreed that the teams would report for duty on Monday, provided that all safety precautions had been met.

The unions said the provision of emergency water and ablution facilities was way behind schedule and therefore not in compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

"The reason advanced was that it was one week's work," they said.

The statement added that during the phasing in of grade 12 and 7 pupils, there will be enough classrooms to observe and comply with social distancing.

"The critical matter was that there will be no sharing of desks by learners."






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