DBE slams WhatsApp message as fake news, apologises for inconvenience
The Department of Basic Education has issued a statement in the wake of a fake message currently circulating in Whatsapp groups.
The message looks like it appears to be official communication from the department, asking parents to answer a questionnaire concerning the opening of schools. "On Twitter DBE is asking input from ALL South Africans about reopening of schools. Now is your chance to voice an opinion," the message states.
There's also a link attached which takes readers to the "questionnaire".
Although it hasn't been clear where or how the fake news was derived from, it comes at a time where parents are left anxious and frustrated. The Departments of Basic and Higher Education were supposed to host a media briefing on Monday, but has now been delayed with plans to update the public later this week.
In response to the fake Whatsapp, Basic Education distanced itself from the contents of the message, and issued an apology for the inconvenience caused.
"The DBE wishes to distance itself from this message. There is no truth in this message currently circulating on WhatsApp groups. The Day 32 question never mentioned what’s contained in this WhatsApp message. Please ignore it. We apologize for the inconvenience caused as a result," it said in a statement.
It then went on to post a further message on Twitter, pointing out how to avoid falling victim to fake news. This included that when in doubt, always verify news on the DBE website or to contact the department via its social medial channels.
A reminder: pic.twitter.com/wCHRvciKy8— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) April 28, 2020
In the meantime, parents and teachers anxiously wait to see what plans Education puts in place for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. On postponing the briefing, Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “This was necessary for the department to align with other interventions that will be taken by the National Command Council later this week.
He said the department was steadily tracking the Covid-19 infection rate.
“Decisions on education are based on the assessments done daily. Whatever criticism you level against the department, keep in mind that we are dealing with a dangerous virus that has already killed people," he added.