File picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency(ANA)
File picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency(ANA)

Eastern Cape schools placed under custodianship of provincial health department

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 15, 2020

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Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape said it was extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of pupils in the province after schools were placed under the custodianship of the health department

Yusuf Cassim, DA provincial spokesperson on Education said the provincial Health department “is in chaos and has proven itself unable to manage its response to the current Covid-19 crisis.”

Cassim said placing the task of custodianship of schools in their hands places the lives of pupils at risk.

He said the education department needed to own its shortcomings, “and if it is unable to do so the premier, Oscar Mabuyane, needs to step in.”

“Since May I have repeatedly called on the premier to personally oversee and guide Education MEC Fundile Gade, and his department in relation to the Covid-19 response,” he said.

Cassim said that the department had failed to deliver Personal Protective Equipment to all schools, failed to address water shortages and failed to provide clear plans relating to the transportation of pupils.

Despite the calls for intervention, when schools were eventually reopened last week, June 8, “there were still thousands of schools in the province which had not received all the necessary PPE and resources for the pupils, teachers and staff,” Cassim said

He said the crisis that the department finds itself in was due to poor management, not a lack of expertise on health matters.

“As further grades are phased in, the chaos will intensify unless there is proper management put in place. This will require key interventions, as well as regular oversight.”

Cassim said it was time for Mabuyane to step in as the leader of the province, to ensure that his MEC’s and departments deliver on the promised services to the people of the Eastern Cape.

Vuyiseka Mboxela, the spokesperson for Education MEC Fundile Gade, said every school in the province has been paired with a Health facility. That means, in every ward or area where there is a school, there is an identified clinic to be an instant response to any noticed sickness of pupils and teachers during school hours.

Mboxela said this occurred because there is a need for health assistance in a school be it orientation on Covid-19 or teaching about precautionary measures and testing. This is done under the guidance of the health officials at the clinic identified to service the school.

“This is the understanding about schools being under the health department,” Mboxela said.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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