THE Democratic Alliance is going to court to challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to close schools, saying it was not in the best interest of South Africa’s 14 million school learners.
The party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen confirmed this on Friday while responding to an announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa after he ordered learners and teachers at public schools to remain at home from Monday until 24 August, with the exception of matrics and grade 7s who will return sooner.
“We strongly oppose the decision to close public schools for four weeks,” said Steenhuisen.
“We will be approaching the courts on the basis that this decision is politically rather than scientifically motivated and not in the best interests of SA’s 14 million school children.”
Steenhuisen said all the available evidence indicates that schools do not expose learners and staff to higher levels of risk than other places.
According to Steenhuisen, not a single learner death has been reported to the Western Cape Education Department and COVID-19 mortality among the province’s teachers, at 0.07%, is not higher than for other essential workers.
“The decision to close schools is rather a result of the ANC capitulating to all-powerful teachers’ unions, in particular SADTU, who do not have the best interests of learners at heart,” said Steenhuisen.
“Our position remains that those parents who choose to keep their children out of school should be allowed to do so. Staff members who choose to stay home must accept a salary cut.”
“We will not let children become another political football in the ANC’s game to entrench their power and access to state resources in the face of dwindling popular support. In the Western Cape there is no evidence of mass virus spreading at schools.”
(Compiled by Inside Education staff)