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Human Rights Commission Against Closure Of Schools

The South African Human Rights Commission has spoken out against the government's decision to close schools for some grades.

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On Thursday night Ramaphosa announced schools would close for all grades (except grades 7 and 12) until 24 August 2020. The Commission calls the government's decision to close schools "regrettable and unjustifiable".

"The decision means that by 24 August 2020 over 10 million South African children, depending on the grade they are in, will have lost over 50% or 100 scheduled school days as a result of COVID-19 school closures."

On 15 July, the commission released a statement in which it shared the results of a survey it conducted. The survey provided evidence supporting the reopening of schools. 

"The Commission supports the position of Unicef that children should return to schools as soon as possible because ‘evidence points to harm being done to children by not being in school."

"A growing body of international and local research provides evidence of the devastating and long-term effects for young children not reading and writing for extended periods."

Although the commission does not support the government's decision to close schools, it is pleased with the announcement that the government will provide meals to all learners, as instructed by the High Court. 

"The Judge ordered the Department of Basic Education and Provincial Departments of Education to resume the National School National Programme (NSNP)."

The Commission supports the return of the feeding programme because of a study conducted in 2020 about an increase in hunger among children.

"In the sample of 7 000 respondents, 21% reported that someone in the household had gone hungry in the last 7 days and in households with a child, 15% respondents reported that a child had gone hungry in the last 7 days."

The Commission says from 3 August, it will focus its efforts on monitoring the government's progress with the school feeding programmes. 

 

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