Uncertainly looms as Motshekga consistently fumbles

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GK CRONJE

2 June 2020

The unions said this is a time to show solidarity with the plight of other provinces, and sympathy with the plight of thousands of teachers and children across the country. The unions have called on Motshekga to meet teacher unions and governing body associations on 11 June for "genuine assessment and engagement" about the readiness of the system.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

“If we follow the protocols and maintain all precautions, we will effectively minimize the risk posed by the coronavirus.” There are the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has urged schools to not reopen until all the necessary precautions are in place. This comes after the return to school for Grades 7 and 12 has been delayed by another week. President Ramaphosa has assured parents that government and all stakeholders are doing all they can to ensure their children’s safety. Teacher unions have called on schools not to reopen amid the chaos caused by government's last-minute 7 day postponement. “We have heard them, we welcome their contributions and are taking steps to address their concerns as well as proposals.” the President stated. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was expected to address the nation on Sunday evening, and has been heavily criticized for her apparent inability to maintain a sense of order in her department, and with the confusing myriad of conflicting statements made. The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) was concerned that, in some provinces, personal protective equipment (PPE) for pupils had not been received and some schools had not been made ready for their return. Despite Motshekga claiming otherwise, school governing bodies and unions believe it is not in the best interest of children and teachers to return to school while there is uncertainty about health and safety.

“The response never came through until the statement which was released after two cancellations of the media briefing, and despite an undertaking in the meeting by the minister on behalf of the CEM. The teacher unions were vindicated by the independent monitoring consortium led by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) that the system wasn't ready for the reopening of the schools for learners in Grade 7 and 12 on 1 June 2020. The minister asked for time to consult her colleagues, and committed to respond on 31 May, which she did not honour. This is a betrayal of trust, and does not bode well for the credibility of the education system. We want to put on record that the date of 8 June was never mentioned in the meeting, because the focus was readying the system and ensuring that all the provinces comply with the 12 non-negotiables,” unions NAPTOSA, PEU, NATU, SADTU and the SAOU collectively stated. The unions alleges that the Department of Basic Education is "obsessed with dates and ignoring the evidence of provincial readiness.

The lack of appreciation for evidence can only be characterized as irresponsible and negligent,” they echoed. The unions said this is a time to show solidarity with the plight of other provinces, and sympathy with the plight of thousands of teachers and children across the country. The unions have called on Motshekga to meet teacher unions and governing body associations on 11 June for "genuine assessment and engagement" about the readiness of the system. The proposed date for re-opening is now 8 June 2020, but is subject to change at any time.

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