95% of schools ready to reopen after 'drastically improved' mop-up week - Motshekga

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that 95% of schools are ready to reopen.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that 95% of schools are ready to reopen.
Supplied, GCIS

The country's basic education system has put in a momentous effort - and is now ready to open.

This was announced on Sunday by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga - giving the green light for grades 7 and 12 to return to school on Monday.

The reopening of schools comes a week after the minister postponed it, saying too many schools were not ready.

Now a week later, 95% of schools were ready to reopen, Motshekga said.

On Sunday 30 May, she added in her briefing, "the Council of Education Ministers determined that the sector was at a different level of readiness; and required more time to mop up its state of readiness for the resumption of schooling in order to comply with the health, safety and social-distancing measures and requirements on the coronavirus".

In the following seven days, Motshekga said the country's nine education departments, communities, the private sector and other government departments all "stepped up" - and "dramatically improved the national picture".

"It is gratifying to mention that indeed provinces expended their energies to ensure that all prerequisites not yet fulfilled on 30 May 2020 were attended to during the mop-up week from 1 June 2020.

"Most important to also thank members of the public from different communities who stepped up to assist schools in their areas, the private sector that also made huge contributions to assist, sister departments - especially the departments of safety, water and sanitation and the defence force - that assisted the department greatly because in some areas goods being transported to schools had to be escorted and the current capacity of the department has to be increased by other government departments and entities. 

"Last week, we had agreed with our partners to reconvene on Thursday 4 June 2020 to continue to monitor and evaluate all outstanding compliance imperatives."

This had taken place, and all partners in the education sector had reconvened yesterday.

Motshekga said: "Both meetings agreed that the mop up has drastically improved the national picture."

The meeting had received a joint report from teachers unions and provincial education heads.

We can now say with confidence that about 95% of our schools have been ably provided with the Covid-19 related imperatives.

"We can now say with confidence that about 95% of our schools have been ably provided with the Covid-19 imperatives.

"The sector, with the assistance of our partners, will strive to deal with the remaining 5% to ensure that the unfettered rights to health, safety and basic education for all South African children are protected. The golden rule is, there will be no school that will resume, if not ready to do so."

For schools which have not yet proved to be ready, she said: "For the remaining 5% or so learners, alternative measures have been developed by different districts such as temporarily using neighbouring schools, using under-utilised spaces in boarding schools and putting other learners in camps.

"Because some of the alternatives need consultations with parents, provinces will be engaging parents and following the appropriate protocols to get parental concessions. All of this we agreed should be finalised during the course of the week and recovery programmes be implemented."

The briefing continued on Sunday.

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