Department Concerned About Teacher Deaths

The Department of Basic Education is concerned about the number of teachers who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic and how this will affect the exam marking and the next academic year. 

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) says it is saddened about teachers who have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is concerned about the impact this will have on the marking of matric papers and teaching in the next academic year. 

The DBE's director general Mathanzima Mweli said in a video statement that the rate at which teachers are dying is very alarming. 

“The immediate impact of this will be on marking and on teaching and learning when schools reopen. We are extremely worried about the impact this will have when the schools reopen for the 2021 academic year,” said Mweli. 

These are some statistics surrounding the deaths of teachers and school staff:

  • More than 1 600 teachers in the country are believed to have died due to COVID-19 this year.
  • One school in uMgungundlovu, KZN, has been devastated as 11 teachers, and three admin workers have all passed away.

  • Teacher's union, Sadtu estimates that 73 teachers have died since schools were closed on 15 December 2020.

In KwaZulu-Natal the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) provincial spokesperson Thirona Moodley says the number of teachers and school staff who won't return to schools next year may leave a gap in the schooling system. 

"Schools have planned for 2021 with all staff included any staff who cannot return as a result of Covid-19 infection will also mean the school will have to adjust the timetable or quickly get a replacement staff. The loss of any school personnel will be really sad as they will not only be leaving grieving families, but also families at school," said Moodley.

Teacher's unions are concerned about the compliance with the safety protocols at marking centres. 

"We directed a letter to the DG, as well as, the head of exams to ask that we put out a communique to reassure our people of all the safety protocols at the exam [marking] centres." Naptosa Executive Director, Basil Manuel. 

 "Let all [marking] venues be Covid-19 compliant all the protocols must be in place." Professional Educations Union, Ben Machipi. 

The DBE has visited marking centres in three provinces so far and says it is satisfied with the safety measures that are in place. 

Mweli says the department would ensure that the exam marking centres were safe through strict compliance to health and safety protocols. 

"We have increased the number of monitors in our marking centres. My plan is to visit every marking centre across the country so that when I report to the minister and the MECs, I would not just be relaying what has been conveyed to me. I should have walked through the experience of what is taking place in every marking centre.” said Mweli. 

The marking of the matric papers will commence on 4 January 2021. 

Mweli says that no evidence currently exists which could see schools not reopening in January 2021. 





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