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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Union say primary school learners should not return to school on a full-time basis

NYAKALLO TEFU| 

The Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) has called for the  adoption of the “adjusted learner rotation system” at primary schools and have dismissed the department of basic education (DBE) ‘s call to have schools return at full capacity teaching. 

The union said this is because scientific evidence suggests full capacity learning will lead to wide-spread coronavirus infections.

EUSA also said the department has failed to research challenges faced by educators since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

“There is no research that the department has conducted. They have not interviewed teachers to investigate this matter. They are just doing what they did in 2020 by consulting university professors who have never been to classrooms in this lockdown,” said EUSA spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobongwane. 

DBE Minister Angie Motshekga said last week that the department was  in talks with members of parliament and DBE stakeholders to see how primary schools across the country can return to full capacity teaching. 

Motshekga said a “return to normal approach” was critical because learners have lost out on a lot of time and lessons. 

She said the rotational basis system no longer workable.

However, there are challenges.

Motshekga said issues around infrastructure at public primary schools are still a risk and an impediment to the department’s plans and intentions to return to normal schooling. 

The minister said some schools have no capacity to allow learners to social distance or adhere to Covid-19 regulations.

But even with these challenges, Motshekga said it is not possible to say that schools must wait for all infrastructure backlogs to be dealt with before he department reconsiders the current rotational model.

She said the department must make plans to ensure that learners can return at a 100% capacity without worrying about infrastructure. 

EUSA spokesperson disagreed with the minister saying the current system in place– the rotational system – works. He said teachers are coping with the system so there is no need to change it yet. 

Mahlobongwane added that homeschooling is the future and that rotation arrangement has gotten a lot of parents used to being involved in the education of their children. 

He said: “Current statistics show that the danger of death and infections due to Covid-19 is still eminent. There are also new cases of  international  coronavirus strains being reported in South Africa. This, as well as the country being near winter, we believe that we should not rush into any decisions.”

Statistics from the department of health show that the country has seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 infections. They also show that new variants from India and the UK have been found in the country.

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