Schools ‘94% ready’, Motshekga tells unions ahead of schools reopening

Basic education minister scheduled to address the nation

at 4pm on Sunday

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File photo.
Image: Cebisile Mbonani
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga told teachers’ unions and the three major governing body associations on Saturday afternoon that school readiness was at 94%.

This will pave the way for the phasing in of grade 7 and 12 pupils on Monday in eight provinces after pupils were out of school for almost three months. Western Cape schools reopened last Monday.

At 4pm on Sunday, Motshekga was scheduled to address the nation, together with the nine MECs of education, on the state of readiness for the reopening of schools.

On Sunday, the unions and governing bodies said in a joint statement that they supported the call to reopen schools on Monday “with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not Covid-19 compliant”.

They said that three of the nine provinces were still experiencing challenges around the delivery of water tanks “which will make the resumption of learning and teaching impossible unless alternative measures are taken to ensure that all learners receive education”.

TimesLIVE was informed by reliable sources that a presentation by Rand Water at Saturday’s meeting, which lasted more than four hours, indicated that water tanks were not delivered to the OR Tambo, Amatole and Alfred Nzo districts in the Eastern Cape.

According to a source who attended the meeting, Rand Water was short of 191 water tanks.

“A lot of work has to be done in 201 schools in KwaZulu-Natal on water and some work also has to be done in Mpumalanga on water supply.”

The presentation also highlighted problems with water supply in one or two areas of the Free State.

The SANDF has been used to transport water tanks to some schools in Limpopo.

The meeting was also informed that the Eastern Cape and Limpopo required “a lot of mobile toilets as some areas still don’t have ablution facilities”.

This will be provided by basic education and the provinces.

Teachers in Limpopo’s Mopani district, who were told not to report to school, will also have to be trained and orientated, the meeting heard.

According to the source, all the presentations pointed to “areas that still need a little bit of work”. ​National Education Collaboration Trust CEO Godwin Khosa, who heads the consortium tasked with monitoring the delivery of Covid-19 essentials to schools, also delivered a report.

Speaking after Saturday’s meeting, Basil Manuel, CEO of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, said: “I believe the system is at a point where it could open notwithstanding the fact that we are still unhappy about certain boxes not being ticked such as water supply and learner overcrowding.

“We have concerns about psychosocial services and also the curriculum that is not speaking to the amount of time left. There has to be a serious readjustment of the curriculum.”

He said the reports presented showed that “there are gaps in the system”.

Meanwhile, 67 schools will not be reopening in Gauteng, including 53 that have problems with water supply and sanitation.

Limpopo education department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said reports indicated that the 3,744 schools were ready to receive pupils on Monday.

“We will be using Saturday and Sunday to focus on delivery of learners’ masks, filling up of water tanks and delivery of mobile toilets to some schools.”

Western Cape education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said 99% of schools had reopened this week.

“We are aware of some schools that are closed as a result of cleaning due to a positive case of Covid-19 being confirmed. They should reopen soon.”

She said that just under 90% of teachers had returned to school.

Free State education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba said their schools were ready to reopen on Monday.

Mpumalanga education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane said it would not be a problem if some teachers were only returning to school for the first time on Monday as principals and school management teams had been trained and “will be able to fill in the gaps”.

While admitting that there may be “pockets of schools” without water, he said they had not received any indication of a school that won’t be reopening except for a school in Mbombela.

Northern Cape education department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said all 562 schools in the province were expected to reopen on Monday.

By Prega Govender

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