Grade 7 pupils being screened as they arrive at school. Photographer :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Grade 7 pupils being screened as they arrive at school. Photographer :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Concern over Covid-19 and stranded pupils as SA schools open

By Sibusiso Mboto, Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Jul 26, 2021

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DURBAN - COMMUNITIES should band together and explore ways to accommodate stranded pupils whose schools were vandalised during the unrest, or risk having a lost generation of young people.

This was the advice offered yesterday by National Association of School Governing Bodies general secretary Matakanye Matakanye, as pupils are expected to return to school today for the third term.

He said the organisation was concerned about the welfare of pupils whose schools were vandalised and looted in the unrest two weeks ago.

“We are concerned about what will happen this week, because tens of hundreds of pupils will have no accommodation.

“Our appeal, though, is that we explore using structures that already exist in our communities such as halls, and where possible church buildings, because the country’s future is at stake here,” Matakanye said yesterday.

Speaking on Saturday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the KZN Department of Education had made arrangements to ensure that all schools reopened today.

A total of 137 schools, three education centres and eight circuit offices were vandalised in the province. She added that although assessments had not been finalised, the estimated repairs would cost more than R300 million.

The Parents Association of KZN Chairperson Vee Gani said they were fearful that in trying to accommodate pupils whose schools had been vandalised, there could be further overcrowding, adding a further risk for Covid-19 infections.

He also lamented the learning days that had been lost due to school holidays being extended.

“This is an unfair race against time for the learners,” Gani said.

National Teachers Union vice-president Sibusiso Malinga said it was important to ensure everyone’s safety in schools, especially with the presence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The looting had put further strain on the province’s infrastructure backlog.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said the union would closely monitor the opening of schools, especially the delivery of cleaning materials and personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Naptosa had cautioned the DBE that it will be risky to bring back all primary school learners, as well as learners with special needs. We appeal to the individual schools to put in place measures that will assist with social distancing, if they can,” said Moodley.

THE MERCURY

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