159 teachers have died since December: Motshekga
Cape Town - Approximately 159 South African teachers have died since December 2020, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday. The minister was providing an update on the readiness of schools to reopen for the 2021 academic year.
“The figures indicate that 1 169 educators have passed away of Covid-19. This year alone, up to 12 February, the number of educators stands at 159,“ Motsheka said.
Motshekga, who herself suffered from what she called a severe case of Covid-19 late last year, said a full report on the impact of the pandemic would be posted on the department’s website.
The minister said 250 000 young people have been employed under the auspices of the Basic Education Employment Initiative as teaching assistants and general assistants to bolster educators’ capacity at schools. The new jobs were created as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fiscus stimulus package announced in April last year.
R2 billion has been allocated to SGB-funded schools, Motshekga said.
Teacher unions have cautiously welcomed the decision to reopen schools.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said on Saturday this was an opportunity to get pupils back at their desks.
Executive director for Naptosa Basil Manuel said they supported the reopening of schools, but there must be strict adherence to health protocols.
“Naptosa has always supported the reopening of schools and we had had conditions that the schools be safe and health concerns addressed. We do believe schools create a safe environment for learners and teachers,” said Manuel.
“We have no doubt that schools must reopen, but we must do it in the safest possible manner,” he said.
He said the fact that they want schools to reopen did not take away the concerns they have.
He said there were concerns in some of the rural provinces in terms of the state of readiness levels.
But Naptosa was also concerned that for years the school infrastructure has been collapsing and this has not been addressed by the government.
The reopening of schools this week will be followed by the release of the matric results on February 22.
The Gauteng provincial government has indicated that despite the challenges of Covid-19 the pupils had done well.
Motshekga will release the results next Monday.
The minister was forced to reschedule the reopening of schools from January 27 to February 15 following concerns about the safety of pupils and teachers during the peak period of Covid-19.
As part of measures to prevent the spread of the disease the Department of Basic Education has implemented a system of rotation for pupils.
This limits the number of pupils attending school at any given day.