Trade unions to DBE: Be prepared for when schools reopen amid pandemic

In the last year, the department like many others has been forced to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning, thanks to COVID-19.

FILE: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Public schools around the country are set to reopen in two weeks’ time and trade unions have on Monday called on the Department of Basic Education to make sure it’s prepared when the bell rings.

In the last year, the department, like many others, has been forced to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning, all because of COVID-19. This has come with many challenges.

The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said it would survey schools across the country to gauge their readiness.

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Executive director at Naptosa Basil Manuel said the safest place for pupils should be at school.

“We haven’t called for any postponements; we believe that we should be ready come the 25th and then, of course, the 27th for the learners and we want to, as close as possible, stick to those dates.”

Manuel has also stressed that they will not support any budget cuts from the department.

“We are hearing little rumours of budget constraints when it comes to the health and safety of our teachers. And our education workers and by extension the learners.”

READ: ‘We are not invincible’ – Teachers fearful ahead of reopening of schools

Public schools are set to reopen on 27 January.

Meanwhile, experts say communication between schools and district offices must play a huge part to ensure proper functioning, especially during the pandemic.

Education expert professor Mary Metcalfe said the only way this year’s academic year would succeed was through cooperation.

Metcalfe, who’s also a senior research associate at Wits University, said the readiness of all schools should be a top priority and pupils must return to classrooms.

“Some of these reasons are that the regularity and routine and social practices of belonging to a broader community and participating is important for learners as a routine of approaching work.”

She said having children in school would help with their overall performance and growth.

“It’s also important for so many learners to access school nutrition and to access social interaction.”

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