Limpopo Schools Were Not Ready To Reopen

The 2021 school year has begun. However, a Union in Limpopo has said that schools in the province were not ready to open as a multitude of issues arise.

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Limpopo is the one province where there are always reports of schools suffering under dire conditions whether it be infrastructure or shortages of teachers and classes.

With the 2021 school year kicked off, were these schools ready to operate in a Covid world?

Many have also said that the province was not ready to start the 2021 school year on Monday.

Rasikhinya Matevhutevhu Michael, Limpopo Chairperson for the Educators Union, said:

The province is not ready at all. If we try to put in a percentage, we could say its 3% ready. If we want to be factual when we check what it is that must be there in terms of what is needed for the real schools to be ready. Unless if we are just saying, 'no let them go to school'. 

Majority of schools in the province have staffing issues with educators not having been replaced. 

The Education Department in Limpopo has decided to extend the contracts of their temporary teachers. Some of these teachers have been temporary for years.

As for the education assistants hired as part of the President's Youth Employment Initiative, an Educators Union has said that their stipends are having to be paid by schools, outside of their budget.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has however said it is working with Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) to ensure that all qualifying education assistants and general school assistants, granted that they were employed in December and have submitted all the required documents, are paid this month.

The funds being used to pay the assistants has been sent to the provinces and is then transferred to schools, DBE said. 

Many schools have also had textbook and stationary issues. Some haven't received stationary or deliveries were not completed. 

Michael says they only send enough so that everything can appear to be on track and media can be quiet about the situation.

As for school nutrition programmes, it's been reported that there is no food available for learners and some learners depend on this meal for the day.

Schools are still dilapidated, have a lack of water and are still using pit toilets. Classes don't have suitable furniture as well.

These schools are said to not be in a proper state for a pre-Covid learning world which means that these schools are definitely not in the proper condition to ensure learners are safe.

All the schools in the province, there has not been a single sanitiser delivered. Principals were called and told that they must go and buy the sanitisers which they don't know where to get them. They don't even know the specifications. We are having a problem here in the province.

There has also been a lack of masks delivered to schools. Only Grade Rs were provided with masks, Michael said.

Questions have now arisen on where money for these things will come from as the Union says there was no budget allocated. 

"Apart from that, there is a lot of misappropriation of funds in Limpopo which I think the Auditor-General will pick up"

However, the provincial department in Limpopo has said that they are ready to welcome learners back as well as vaccine rollout. 

Michael says that he thinks the department doesn't care about Limpopo schools.

The union hopes to engage with stakeholders to ask for something to be done.

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