Teachers and trade unions have backed the SA Human Rights Commission’s call for the Western Cape Education Department to reopen schools in accordance with the national directive. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Teachers and trade unions have backed the SA Human Rights Commission’s call for the Western Cape Education Department to reopen schools in accordance with the national directive. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Unions, SAHRC warn MEC over reopening plan for Cape schools

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

Share this article:

Cape Town - Teachers and trade unions have backed the SA Human Rights Commission’s call for the Western Cape Education Department to reopen schools in accordance with the national directive.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and Cosatu have also said they would hold Education MEC Debbie Schäfer and Brian Schreuder, the provincial head of education, “personally accountable for any flouting of health and safety regulations in the province”.

Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said they challenged Schäfer to publish her independent verification of school readiness in the province.

Cosatu's Malvern de Bruyn added that it would lay criminal charges against Schäfer and others who endangered the lives of the employees and pupils, were they to contract Covid-19.

The commission's Chris Nissen said it had agreed to seek an urgent meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council as to the province’s decision on reopening schools.

Nissen said it had written to the provincial Education Department and “Schäfer explained their reasons for not wanting to reverse the school reopening”.

Kerry Mauchline, Schäfer’s spokesperson, said she had received the letter and responded.

“Schooling will continue in the Western Cape, according to the June 1, 2020, start date for Grade 7 and 12 learners that was gazetted by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Friday, and again on Monday,” Mauchline said.

The department's Bronagh Hammond added: “We have so far seen, overall, a successful reopening of schools.

"Given these unusual and uncertain times, we are extremely pleased with the way in which our schools have embraced the new normal in terms of the safety guidelines at schools and the new processes and behaviours required.”

Khalid Sayed, the ANC's deputy chief whip in the provincial legislature and its spokesperson on education, said the department had said that broken school fences had placed premises and pupils’ safety at risk.

Lorraine Botha, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on education, said on average the current pupil and teacher absenteeism rates is 9.17% and 3.27% respectively.

“Although the department attributed the increase in absenteeism to tighter monitoring systems for proper evaluation and improvement, numbers remain a point of concern as we face the Covid-19 pandemic, where a total of one term of contact time has already been lost,” Botha said.

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Share this article:

Related Articles