Back to school: Will pupils be forced to return? Education dept answers questions

accreditation

As schools prepare to reopen on 1 June amid the coronavirus pandemic, parents may have concerns about the safety of their children with underlying health conditions, like asthma.

However, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said no one will be forced to go back to school.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Motshekga outlined the plans for schools to start receiving pupils where she explained that the parents of children with ailments, like asthma, should "step up" and declare this to the school.

This is so that schools can assist parents to manage the pupil, but, she added she could not give any guarantees as thousands of pupils needed to be looked after.

"We will have to deal [with it] case by case without necessarily giving any individual or family any guarantees because I don't think I will be able to do that," Motshekga said.

These cases, she added, would be dealt with as parents declare it to schools.

READ | Reopening of schools: Food programme, transport will be available under safety protocols

While every child is important, Motshekga said learners without underlying conditions could not be held back by those who do.

Deputy Basic Education Minister Makgabo Mhaule added that the department does not want to expose pupils to any danger, and parents must let their schools know about their child's conditions.

Schools will then be able to arrange a plan around how they will go about teaching pupils who cannot physically attend school due to their condition.

Deciding not to send your child back to school

Motshekga said the doubts and anxieties of parents are understandable. Should parents decide they do not want their children to return to school, they could either register for home schooling or the child could repeat their grade.

While children under 15 must be in school, the South African Schools Act allows parents to home school, but they must register for this.

This involves submitting a plan for the home schooling, and parents will be assisted with the curriculum for each grade.

ALSO READ | What you need to know: 9 things from Motshekga's schools reopening briefing

Should parents decide their children will not be returning to school and that they will not undertake home schooling, Motshekga said parents can also apply to have their children repeat their grade.

Mhaule explained that parents should not deprive their children of schooling.

"If you say my child will not attend a physical school, then arrange for the home schooling and you will be supported if you follow all the guidelines for home schooling," she said.

Impact on children

Motshekga warned that the impact of not sending children back to school would be severe on pupils.

She explained that the longer pupils were out of school, the more likely they were to not return.

She said this was seen in 2010 during the teachers' strike which saw most pupils, particularly teenagers, not returning to school.

Children from poorer households are also five times more likely to stay out of primary school compared to those from wealthier households, Motshekga said.

According to Unicef, Unesco and the World Health Organisation, staying out of school can lead to teenage pregnancies, sexual exploitation, child marriage, violence and other dangers, Motshekga explained.

It also disrupts essential schooling services, such as feeding schemes and medical services like child vaccinations, mental health and psychosocial support.

It can cause stress and anxiety as children would be taken away from friends and their routine would be interrupted.

Motshekga said this is why they had to ensure pupils go back to school and are protected from Covid-19.

Stay healthy and entertained during the national lockdown. Sign up for our Lockdown Living newsletter. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Should Covid-19 vaccinations be mandatory for employees in workplaces?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it is the responsible thing to do
47% - 4385 votes
No, vaccination should be an individual choice
43% - 4034 votes
No, but those who are unvaccinated should have to work from home
11% - 997 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.61
-0.2%
Rand - Pound
20.32
-0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.34
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.72
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.1%
Gold
1,814.19
0.0%
Silver
25.49
0.0%
Palladium
2,662.50
0.0%
Platinum
1,051.86
0.0%
Brent Crude
75.41
+0.4%
Top 40
62,852
-0.9%
All Share
68,971
-0.9%
Resource 10
70,683
-2.0%
Industrial 25
88,051
-0.4%
Financial 15
12,906
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE