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'We still have schools without water': Unions urge dept to close schools

Natu and Naptosa have accused the Basic Education Department of failing to meet their non-negotiables, which include the replacement of teachers with comorbidities.

FILE: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

DURBAN - Teachers unions Natu and Naptosa have backed the call by Sadtu for schools to be closed until the coronavirus pandemic peak has passed in the country.

The unions have accused the Basic Education Department of failing to meet their non-negotiables, which include the replacement of teachers with comorbidities. The department insists, however, that schools must remain open until further notice.

Teacher unions say the only way to stop the spread of COVID-19 at schools is to now implement remote teaching and learning.

Natu president Alan Thompson said the Basic Education Department failed to ensure safety during the lockdown.

“We still have schools without water, and we don’t have sufficient teachers in the classrooms. Teachers are overworked.”

Executive director of Naptosa Basil Manuel said very little teaching and learning took place in classrooms.

“The mental health of our members is taking a serous knock. There are so many schools that report low attendance.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected consult education sector stakeholders this week and give certainty to the nation at the weekend.

SUPPORT FOR SCHOOLS

School governing bodies have come out in support of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's decision to keep schools open during the lockdown.

This is despite calls by some teacher unions who want schools closed until after the peak of COVID-19 in the country
The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools said uncertainty over the duration of the peak may lead to schools being closed indefinitely and the country cannot afford this.

Paul Colditz of the federation said their call to keep schools open was based on expert advice.

“A medical expert again emphasised this morning for children to go back to schools for various reasons like their health and developmental reasons.”

He added calls by unions to implement remote teaching and learning will exacerbate inequality among pupils.
“Those who do have access to online learning will continue learning.”

Matekanye Matekanye of the National Association of School Governing Bodies said problems relating to safety at schools must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

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