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Unions: Basic Ed Dept failed to give detailed report on school re-opening

Matric pupils returned to their classrooms on Monday while lower grades will be phased in throughout the month.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at a briefing on 1 June 2020. Picture GCIS.

DURBAN - Teacher unions are accusing the Basic Education Department of failing to provide a detailed report on how the temporary closure of schools was used to prepare facilities ahead of re-opening.

Matric pupils returned to their classrooms on Monday while lower grades will be phased in throughout the month.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of schools last month to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Major unions Sadtu, Naptosa and Natu now want an urgent meeting with minister Angie Motshekga this week to ensure the safety of their members when more pupils return to school.

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel said they had little confidence in the department because it failed to address their safety concerns.

“We’ll get to a particular date and then it will seem like unions are once again throwing their hands in the air, but the reality is that if it impacts the safety of our membership, then we need to throw up our hands.”

Natu’s Alan Thompson said given its financial challenges, the department was being too ambitious by seeking to bring all pupils back to schools by end of this month.

“When they opened for grade 12 and seven pupils, there was not enough space. This means they need to deliver mobile classrooms.”

Meanwhile, the department’s Elijah Mhlanga has called on union leaders to be more solution-oriented, saying this would benefit both educators and pupils.

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