Schäfer to DBE: Scrap the 1m rule and restore full school attendance
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Cape Town - The MEC of education in the Western Cape Debbie Schäfer has called for the scrapping of the 1m rule at schools and the full return of pupils to school. Schäfer's call comes after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the rotational timetable would remain in place.
“At this stage, approximately only 12% of our primary schools can comply with these directions,” said Schäfer in a statement. “That means that approximately 88% of our primary schools are attending school on a rotational basis, despite efforts to revert to full attendance.”
She added that there is strong and mounting evidence to suggest that the learning losses young people are suffering are devastating and will have long term negative consequences.
“According to the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey published in May 2021, in 2020 South African primary school children in no-fee schools have learnt 50-75% less than what they normally learn. In 2021, there continued to be significant teaching time losses, as a result of rotational timetables.”
Motshekga yesterday said she was following an advisory from the Ministerial Advisory Committee from July 2021.
"The fact of the matter is that Covid-19 is very much still with us, and we need to continue to work together to fight it. We are exploring possibilities to return schooling to normal, but we need to do so responsibly. And to this end, we rely entirely on the advice of public health experts, through the Ministerial Advisory Committee, the National Coronavirus Command Council, and indeed Cabinet. At the right time, we will come back to report on progress being made."
Schäfer said depriving children of the opportunity to attend school full-time in the current circumstances was no longer justified. “In order to avoid a generational catastrophe, we call on the DBE and department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs to make the necessary changes to the regulations and directions to ensure that we can start to make up the devastating losses that have already been incurred, and which will take years to remedy.”
She said the province would follow all necessary processes to take this forward in the interests of all in the Western Cape.