'We aren't asking for favours': ECD workers want to be vaccinated too
Out of an over 180,000 early childhood development workforce, only around 42,000 practitioners who fall under the Department of Basic Education will be vaccinated, while the majority were a component of Department of Social Development.
JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - As the education sector gears up for the vaccination of teachers and support staff from Wednesday, concerns are mounting that most of South Africa's early childhood centres are left in limbo.
Government aims to vaccinate over half a million employees in the next two weeks.
However, out of an over 180,000 early childhood development workforce, only around 42,000 practitioners who fall under the Department of Basic Education will be vaccinated, while the majority are a component of the Department of Social Development.
Early childhood development centres cater for children from birth.
Those who focus on children from grade R, which is around five years of age, until grade three fall under the Department of Basic Education while Department of Social Development is responsible for those under the age of four.
Ruby Motaung is the executive director for training and resources in early childhood education (ECD).
She said she didn’t understand why most ECD practitioners had been left out of the national vaccination of educators.
“If the minister of the Department of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said do it [vaccinate] why can’t the Department of Social Development do it?”
Motaung said those in ECD were equally exposed to the virus.
“We are not asking for favours here. We are asking for what is right.”
The sector has lashed out at the Department of Social Development for being mum on the matter.
The department was yet to respond to requests by Eyewitness News for an interview at the time of publishing this article.
The Northern Cape government said it was ready to make coronavirus vaccines available to all 556 schools in the province.
Forty-two people in the sector have succumbed to the disease since the start of the pandemic.
An initial batch of 7200 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in the province to kickstart the vaccination drive in the basic education sector.
Officials said the programme would run from Wednesday until 8 July.
Education MEC Zolile Monakali said they had identified 16,100 teachers and support staff at private and public schools who would be inoculated.
“Teachers, administrative staff and support staff irrespective of their age.”
Monakali said transport would be made available to ensure people had access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Education officials said nine schools in the province were still closed as part of efforts to manage COVID-19 cases.
The Western Cape Department of Education said it would receive about 55,200 vaccines for teaching staff this week.
While other provinces will kick off the vaccination programme on Wednesday, the Western Cape will start the rollout on Friday.
The department said it would be utilising 29 vaccination sites around the province.
At the same time, the department is dealing with increased staff and learner cases in schools. There are currently 228 active teachers’ cases and 546 active learner cases.
At Kasselsvlei Primary school, six educators have tested positive for COVID-19.
The department said the school had adjusted their timetables to allow for the management of their programme with less educators, but still had a full school day for learners.