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Schools Reopening Breakthrough As SA’s Five Teacher Unions Back June 8 Return

CHARLES MOLELE

FIVE TEACHER unions have cautiously come out in support of government plans to start the phased reopening of schools on Monday June 8 following a recent clash between the unions and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The five teacher unions (SADTU, NAPTOSA, SAOU, NATU, PEU), together with the school governing body associations (SGBs) said on Sunday that they met with Motshekga, the Director General, nine MECs of Education, Heads of department (HODs) and others, and they support the move to partially reopen schools.

In a statement, the unions and SGB associations said they noted the overall school readiness at 94% and cautiously welcome the progress.

However, they insisted that there is a clear understanding that no school that is not COVID-19 compliant may open.

“We wish to emphasize that the meeting was open, frank and in a positive collaborative spirit that sought to join forces in combating a threat that affects not only everyone involved in education but also the future development of our country as a whole,” the unions said in a statement.

“The Unions and SGB Associations heard of the progress made towards compliance. With the overall school readiness said to be 94%, the unions and SGB Associations consequently support the call to re-open schools on 08th June 2020 with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not COVID-19 compliant. It should be stated that three out of the nine provinces were still experiencing challenges with regard to the delivery of water tanks which will make the resumption of learning and teaching impossible unless alternative measures are taken to ensure that all learners receive education.”

Almost a week ago, Motshekga revealed plans to let the first children back to school at the start of June.

The move would apply to Grade 7 and Grade 12 pupils but it faced backlash from teaching unions, parents and SGB associations.

However on Sunday, the unions and SGB associations said they backed the government’s plans.

“We are particularly thankful for the extent of PPEs deliveries, the improvement in the number of completed water supply projects and the delivery and improvement of toilet facilities,” they said in a statement.

“This improvement came as a result of the constant emphasis by the U ions and SGB associations that water and sanitation are the non-negotiables in the fight against the spread of the virus.”

“We remain committed to the principle that all schools must be COVID-19 compliant and ready to open together. We will closely monitor the promise to complete the outstanding water deliveries, toilets, and additional classes.”

(Compiled by Inside Education staff)

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