Wellbeing of pupils in spotlight as coastal schools set to reopen

In the Eastern Cape, workers are still trying to assess the full damage of the recent flash floods and the impact it will have on school reopening while in the Western Cape, Education MEC Debbie Schafer fears that the recent extension of the state of disaster will further affect pupils.

Chalk and a blackboard duster in the refurbished Samson Senior Primary School in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - With two days before public schools in coastal province's reopen, some education officials are worried about the wellbeing of pupils.

In the Eastern Cape, workers are still trying to assess the full damage of the recent flash floods.

The affected area span over more than 220 kilometers, with children from hundreds of displaced families who've been left without schooling supplies or clothes.

Spokesperson for the province's Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department, Mamnkeli Ngam, said that scholar transport would likely be another challenge, given the flood damage on the roads.

"Schools are reopening and we need to ensure that kids are able to go to school, roads are passable, bridges are built in this situation. However, there are delays in terms of relier effort service provision," Ngam said.

Meanwhile in the Western Cape, Education MEC Debbie Schafer fears that the recent extension of the state of disaster will further affect pupils.

Primary schools were meant to return to full capacity but cannot do so under the current disaster declaration.

With more COVID-19 vaccinations and fewer deaths, Schafer said that limiting access to the classroom could be more dangerous for pupils.

"It is clear that the risks to the future of our youth are far greater than the risks posed by COVID-19. The pandemic has changed over the last two years and we must now return to a state of normality. Depriving our children the opportunity to attend school full time in the current circumstances is no longer justified and in order to avoid a generational catastrophe we call on the Department of Basic Education and Cooperative Governance to amend the regulations accordingly," Schafer said.