Disinfection team disinfect the classroom at Ivory Park Secondary School in Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Disinfection team disinfect the classroom at Ivory Park Secondary School in Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Sadtu says Limpopo is far from ready to reopen schools

By Staff Reporter Time of article published May 30, 2020

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Johannesburg -  The biggest trade union for teachers in South Africa, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), has said that schools in Limpopo are far from ready to be reopened on June 1. 

Sadtu in the province issued a media statement, expressing their misgivings about the intention of the Limpopo Department of Education to recall educators back to work in preparation for the schools reopening. 

The union then advised the educators not to return to work as the department had not yet put in place the health safety precautionary measures before workers could return to work. 

Sadtu said that the union took the past week to  assess the situation on the ground and would then indicate their position on whether the department was ready to reopen schools or not.

The union tasked all of its structures to give daily reports on their observation about whether the department was complying with the delivery of all the required resources needed like PPE’s as well as attending to other strategic risks identified to be addressed first before the schools can reopen. 

Sadtu says that the reports submitted, viewed singularly and accumulatively, and painted a "very bleak picture" about the state of the province’s readiness to reopen the schools on June 1.

The reports indicated the following:

  • That not all PPE’s have been delivered to schools and these include the cloth masks for both educators and learners.
  • That the department has not yet appointed screeners at the schools and trained them about executing their work. In some cases the department has attempted to coerce principals of schools to do this task.
  • The process of cleaning and disinfecting the schools was still underway due to financial constraints as a result of the norms and standards monies not yet paid.
  • There are no proper guidelines on managing educators presenting with co-morbidities as the policy to implement this was still being finalised at the national Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). The department has already jumped the gun by issuing a circular on attempts to address this matter while it is still being attended to by the (ELRC).
  • We find this to be in bad taste.
  • The water tanks to be delivered to schools, with no running water, had not yet arrived at those schools.
  • Schools that had challenges of toilets have not yet been provided with mobile toilets as a mitigating factor.
The union was further invited by the Office of the MEC Honourable Polly Boshielo on 27 May for a briefing on the state of the readiness. 

SADTU said in a statement, "While we noted some progress on certain areas, that meeting vindicated our long held view that the time given to provinces by the Minister of Basic Education Honourable Angie Motshekga to prepare themselves was way too little given the enormous challenges at hand. Good intentions alone, no matter how noble and plausible they may seem, do not equate to tangible and practical delivery on the ground."  

Having considered all of the above the PEC of the union that met on the 29 May therefore resolved as follows:

  • That we should afford the department enough time to put their house in order.
  • That the department should rework their time-table for the re-opening of schools not to be the 01st June 2020 as previously planned as doing otherwise would be tantamount to plunging both educators and learners into a war zone fully laden with landmines. 
  • The department should only recall educators back to work once they have fully addressed all areas of concern raised by the union in all of our engagements. Where the schools are ready, the workers should report for duty to receive orientation and training on the new requirements.
  • That educators are advised not to report to school on the 01st June 2020 pending the finalisation of all of the above-mentioned issues.
  • That our structures should continue to monitor the situation on the ground and report back daily.

Having said that, the union remains open for any engagements with the department in order to find amicable solutions that will enable us to move forward.


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