DA leader John Steenhuisen. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
DA leader John Steenhuisen. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Children will suffer for Ramaphosa’s decision to ’bend knee’ to teacher unions - DA

Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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Zintle Mahlati and Lou-Anne Daniels

Cape Town/Johannesburg - DA leader John Steenhuisen says the government is putting teacher unions before South Africa’s schoolchildren, who are not yet able to vote.

He insisted that the decision to shut public schools would deepen the inequality that exists between private and public schools. Steenhuisen said that private school learners were being given an unfair advantage over poorer pupils.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday night that following consultations with various stakeholders in the education sector, schools will be closed from July 27 and re-open on August 24.

He said the decision to close schools comes as the country is expected to approach the peak. The country is expected to reach its peak between August and September.

Teacher unions had lobbied extensively for schools to be closed at least until after the peak.

“President Ramaphosa has bent the knee to all-powerful teachers’ unions, in particular SADTU, who do not have the best interests of learners at heart. This is not leadership. President Ramaphosa is behaving like a “spectator President”, taking instructions from whichever powerful interest group threatens him more,“ Steenhuisen said.

“This decision is not supported by the best available evidence, it is not supported by education experts, and it is not supported by the virus data. The scientific evidence is that schools do not expose learners and staff to higher levels of risk than any other places,” Steenhuisen insisted.

“Closing schools will have a devastating effect on children for years to come. It will make inequality in our society worse. The school year will be further disrupted and may be compromised altogether,” he said.

“Many learners will drop out and never return or will fall behind to the point that they can never catch up."

The school year will now be extended beyond 2020 and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was expected to soon make an announcement on the new calendar year.


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