Schools Ready To Reopen Says Minister

Angie Motshekga

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has said that schools are ready to welcome learners on 15 February and says that the health and safety of all school staff and learners remain the top priority. 

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The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga briefed South Africans on the readiness of schools ahead of the reopening for the 2021 academic year on 15 February. 

In the briefing on Sunday 14 February, Motshegka says that the health and safety of teachers and students is the top priority of the department. 

"At the outset, we must emphasise that the health and safety of teachers, staff and learners remains at the top of the priority list."-Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga. 

In terms of readiness one-on-one meetings have been held with provincial departments and the 5 teacher's unions have issued a survey to determine whether schools are ready to reopen. 

Despite many concerns raised surrounding the opening of schools, the department has assured that all measures have been put in place to ensure that the spread of Covid-19 in schools are addressed and teachers and learners are kept safe. 

The 2020 academic year saw schools closing for extended periods of time and this had a big impact on South African learners. 

The Director General of the department, Mathanzima Mweli says that closing schools will have a negative impact on learners and poses risks for early pregnancies and increased drop out rates, as well as, impacting those learners who rely on the nutrional programmes to be fed. 

Most schools have opened with management staff and teachers returning, however some schools were unable to open due to storm damage and alternatives are being organized so that learners are not staying at home for long periods of time due to this. 

Mweli says that schools have been receiving their Covid-19 essentials, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks. He says these were procured using money that was allocated for infrastructure of schools. 

Mweli also says that many of the Learning and Teaching Support Materials(LTSMs) have already been delivered to schools across the country. 

In terms of learners being placed at schools Mweli said that the backlog of placements has been drastically reduced, however there are still learners who are currently awaiting placement at schools across the country. 

In grade 8 about 16 000 haven't been placed in the country and in grade 1 about 8000 learners have not been placed in schools. This is a big improvement from past years and Mweli says that the reason for some of the learners not being placed is because of capacity challenges. 

"The demand for space in schools, especially in Grades 1 and 8, remains a challenge for the Sector. All provinces, are experiencing a high demand in particular areas," said Motshekga. 

Motshekga has called for all to continue to observe Covid-19 safety protocols so that people may remain healthy. 

"Let us continue to adhere to the health and safety protocols – wear masks appropriately; sanitise and wash your hand with water and soap; keep social distancing; and avoid large gatherings. I urge every one of us, to play our part in keeping our communities safe and healthy."- Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga. 

 

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