Survey Shows Most Schools Aren't Ready To Reopen

worker wearing a mask in classroom

A survey presented by teacher unions has revealed that many schools across South Africa are not yet ready to reopen the schools and welcome learners back. 

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Teacher's unions, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), South African Teachers Union (Saou), National Teachers Union (Natu) and Professional Educators Union (PEU) collaborated to conduct a large survey which assessed the school readiness for the 2021 academic year. 

The survey was taken across 7440 schools in the country and it revealed that majority of these schools were not ready to welcome learners back on 15 February 2021. 

The survey tried to determine the material readiness of schools, which is defined as having enough supplies of hand and surface sanitizers as well as face masks so that the health and safety regulations of the government can be met. 

According to the findings, about 40% of schools do not have sufficient supplies, while 53% have said that they are not confident that they can comply with government's sanitizing and social distancing effectively most probably due to a lack of resources. 

54% of principals have expressed their worry about the stressed-out and anxiety-ridden teachers. 

They have called for systematic support across provinces for school staff. 

Speaking to CapeTalk, Naptosa Executive Director, Basil Manuel said: 

"Fear and anxiety are informed by different things… whether the measures would be in place to protect teachers… by stress and grief from loss… Everybody has suffered in one way or another… There is great trepidation for the 15th[when schools reopen]…" 

Department of Basic Education (DBE) spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department will work with partners to ensure that, where needed, teachers are provided with the support they need. 

Education experts have warned that the delayed 2021 school calendar coupled with the lost teaching time in 2020 would have a big impact on students. 

However, Manuel says that the department should not put pressure on educators to catch up on the curriculum but instead "fix and heal the people and then they will do a better job with the children". 

Responses from schools in the Western Cape have indicated that they are most equipped to welcome learners back, however a shortage of masks and school funds exists in the province. While schools in KwaZulu-Natal are the least prepared. 

 

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