Schools reopening: Motshekga to address nation on Sunday about state of readiness

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (GCIS)
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (GCIS)
  • The reopening of public schools in South Africa was postponed by two weeks in the wake of the second Covid-19 wave.
  • They were initially supposed to open on 27 January for pupils, but this was pushed back to 15 February. 
  • Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to give clarity on details of the return.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to brief the nation on Sunday about schools' state of readiness to reopen. 

On Monday 15 February, schools were expected to reopen after closing in December, following what was an eventful year for the sector in the wake of Covid-19 in South Africa. 

On Wednesday, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said more details around Motshekga's address would be released on Friday. 

In January, the department delayed the reopening of schools by two weeks due to pressure experienced by the health sector, as infections increased during the second Covid-19 wave. 

The school year was initially planned to start on 25 January for teachers and January 27 for pupils, which would have given 207 days for teaching and learning.

Teachers returned on 1 February to prepare for the reopening. 

On Tuesday, the department released a new school calendar which would give schools 40 weeks of teaching and learning this year, News24 reported. 

The first term, which is expected to start on Monday, will end on 23 April and the second term will commence on 3 May and end on 9 July, according to the calendar. 

The education department has been faced with challenges, among them ensuring schools adhere to Covid-19 protocols and have sufficient PPE and space to allow for social distancing. 

Last year, after almost three months of the sector shutting down, last-minute delays were made due to provinces not being ready to welcome pupils. Motshekga postponed the reopening of schools from 1 June to 8 June.

Not long after, they had to shut again from 27 July until 24 August, and grades returned in staggered form. This was to reduce transmission.  

Matrics were the most challenged amid all the chaos as they had to conclude the full curriculum in order sit for their final National Senior Certificate examinations which ran from 5 November until 15 December last year.

Motshekga is expected to release the results on 22 February.

In January, five teacher unions, including South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) and National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) conducted a national state of readiness survey which found that only 37% of public schools that responded, were ready to reopen on 15 February. 

Among the concerns that were raised from 7 440 responses received from school principals were the lack of PPE, water and space to allow for effective social distancing.

Nationally, 40% of schools that participated said they did not have enough hand and surface sanitisers, while 20% said they did not have enough masks. 

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