Unions Concerned About Readiness of Schools

Teacher's unions are concerned about the state of readiness of many schools across the country as their survey showed that a large amount of schools were not fully equipped to reopen on 15 February. 



While the Department of Basic Education's Minister Angie Motshekga said in a media briefing that schools were ready to reopen on 15 February, teacher's unions would beg to differ. 

The five teacher's unions he South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), the South African Teachers' Union (Satu), the Professional Educators Union (PEU) and the National Teachers' Union (Natu) say that their survey conducted on the readiness of schools indicates that only 57% of schools which participated in the survey are fully equipped to reopen for the 2021 academic year. 

SABC News spoke to NAPTOSA's president, Nkosiphendule Ntantala who said that the rest of these schools were still awaiting consignments of goods that they thought were going to be delivered between 10 and 15 February. 

"Listening to the briefing by the Minister and the Director General, they gave a different picture indicating that quite a number of schools will be ready," said Ntantala. 

Ntantala said that the department is responsible for providing the personal protective equipment (PPE) however some schools have reported that they have had to ask parents to provide their children with masks when they send them to school, in case PPE had not been delivered by the reopening date. 

Unions have said that many schools in poor and rural communities would not be able to afford to buy basic PPE like sanitizers and masks. Ntantala said that according to the survey some schools were looking to purchase their own PPE so that they had a sufficient amount. 

NAPTOSA's Executive Director Basil Manuel has said that the union is concerned about the partial readiness of schools especially within more rural provinces such as  KZN, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo who were the furthest behind in terms of readiness. 

Manuel says that the government should put more funds towards assisting struggling schools. 

 “We cannot have that our schools are not completely ready, because we are talking about health and safety. If our provincial departments are not doing the best they can, then that means that whatever the president had said is not applying to them.

“We want to see more effort put in, and even if that means we must have more finances made available to these battling provinces," said Manuel. 

The survey also indicated that principals and teachers were quite anxious about the reopening of schools. However Ntantala says the the School Management Teams (SMTs) are working very hard to encourage and motivate teachers for when learners arrive at schools. 

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has urged communities to support teachers when school reopens. 

They say that while the preparation for the reopening is not complete, teachers must be given the support as learners return to school as they have been missing periods of education. 

 "We as an organisation would want to make an appeal to the communities and our people in South Africa to support the work of our teachers so that then they are able to proceed with education starting from Monday,” said Sadtu secretary-general Mugwena Maluleke.


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