EDUCATION activist Hendrick Makaneta says Education Minister Angie Motshekga should be lauded for plans to reduce the distance rule at schools. Photographer :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
EDUCATION activist Hendrick Makaneta says Education Minister Angie Motshekga should be lauded for plans to reduce the distance rule at schools. Photographer :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parents should applaud Motshekga for her plans to reduce distance rule to 0.5 metres – activist

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Aug 6, 2021

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EDUCATION activist Hendrick Makaneta is in support of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plans to get approval to reduce the social distancing measure to half a metre, 0.5m.

Motshekga announced that it intends to approach the cabinet to reduce the social distancing measure from the currently gazetted 1 metre to 0.5m at schools. This decision has been met with apprehension from educators unions who claim to not have been consulted. The unions have also requested that the minister bring scientific data to support her intentions.

They have requested a meeting with education authorities.

According to Motshekga, primary school learners from August 2 will be attending school daily.

Makaneta said: “There is no doubt that the rotational timetable has deepened the crisis of drop-out rates and further caused learners to fall behind with the curriculum. The minister’s decision to approach the National Coronavirus Command Council should be applauded by all parents and teachers as it will certainly go a long way to improve education and reduce drop-out rates in the system.”

He said the risk-adjusted differentiated strategy is necessary to restore normality and promote collaborative learning in schools.

Adding that the pandemic has undoubtedly caused challenges that will take many years before we can return to a proper learning and teaching environment.

“Learners are already defying the social distancing protocols in schools daily. It is difficult to enforce a 2m distance as learners use buses to schools where there is no social distance,” he stressed.

He supported Motshekga’s plans saying that she would not forcefully impose the rule at schools that are not “ready” urging parents who disagree with this not to force their views on those who have no issue with Motshekga’s strategy.

Meanwhile, Stellenbosch University Community health expert Dr Jo Barnes advised that while reducing the distance is never a good idea it was a better option.

The spread of the virus is increased in areas with crowds due to lots of air movement or inadequate ventilation.

“This is part of many problems in the school situation. Space is at a premium on far too many of our schools (overcrowding even before the pandemic began). Add to that, the complications that the whole teaching situation relies on speech and sometimes calling out or singing, etc (by the learners and the teacher), then you have a high-risk scenario,” she said.

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