Naptosa disputes majority of KZN schools are ready to reopen
Durban - The provincial branch of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) on Monday disputed that the vast majority of KwaZulu-Natal public schools were ready to open safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Naptosa KZN has representatives in different Circuits and Districts, who have been monitoring school readiness, they paint a very different picture,” said union spokesperson, Thirona Moodley.
Moodley's remarks were in response to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga saying "with confidence" on Sunday the majority of schools were safe and ready to reopen.
Schools officially resumed lessons for grades 7 and 12 countrywide on Monday after closing in mid-March because of the pandemic. The remainder of the grades are to be phased in.
Moodley said the minister's remarks contradicted the provincial education department's statistics on items deemed non-negotiable by unions, which were needed to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
“The department in the province have indicated that 62% of liquid soap is delivered, 82% of masks delivered and 83% of thermo scanners delivered. How did the minister conclude that KZN is 99.5% ready to open for learners today? It does not add up,” she said.
The provincial education department has come under scrutiny for the price it has allegedly paid suppliers for personal protective equipment (PPE) for its over 6 000 schools, and for millions of rands worth of PPE going missing, and one batch suddenly being found.
“We also are aware that millions of rands worth of PPEs had mysteriously disappeared in Pinetown, Umlazi and Zululand, and were informed that the PPEs for Zululand were recovered," said Moodley.
"We do not know the status of the missing PPEs in the other districts. Umlazi and Pinetown are mega districts. Was there a recovery of the PPEs? Pinetown and Umlazi Districts' readiness levels will make a sizeable impact on the province's readiness,” she said.
Teacher unions, school governing bodies and other role players have been disputing for weeks that schools have been ready for reopening. The date for resumption of classes had already been delayed twice due to insufficient PPE stocks and insufficient water and sanitation equipment, such as chemical toilets and wash basins.
Moodley said Naptosa urged the department of basic education to "be cautious", as stakeholders would demand accountability.
"We are protecting the health and lives of our learners and teachers. Naptosa will continue to monitor closely and hold the DBE to account.”
African News Agency