Student body threatens Limpopo school shutdown amid Covid-19 concerns

Disinfecting and cleaning of a school classroom.
Disinfecting and cleaning of a school classroom.
Felix Dlangamandla
  • Congress of South African Students in Limpopo marched on Thursday with demands related to Covid-19's impact on schools.
  • Their concerns include gender-based violence, scholar transport, the "nationalisation" of private schools and adequate PPE.
  • They have also threatened a shutdown of schools in the province, as 963 000 pupils are expected to return on 6 July.

The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in Limpopo marched through the streets of Polokwane on Thursday to press for various demands related to Covid-19's impact on schools.

However, the Cosas members ended their march at the provincial education department headquarters when MEC Polly Boshielo failed to show up to receive the memorandum.

Boshielo's failure to show up earned the wrath of Cosas provincial secretary Scalo Mahladisa who described the MEC as a "political Covid-19" and a "liar". 

The department's spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said Boshielo and her executive team were in a virtual portfolio committee meeting on education at the time of the march.

Mahladisa, a student at a tertiary institution, said: "They have been promising things that are not there.

"We are led by people who are ideologically empty and clueless. They must stop being arrogant and allow stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process."

Cosas was demanding that examination papers originally prepared, be reviewed and aligned with the Covid-19 impact. 

WATCH | Cosas calls on education department to close schools, prioritise matrics

They also demanded an awareness programme be introduced at schools around gender-based violence, scholar transport and the "nationalisation" of private schools.

Speaking to News24, Mahladisa also raised issues of lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at schools and also a lack of plans around the 42 schools that did not reopen due to lack of adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

He threatened a shutdown of schools in the province on Monday.

This comes at a time when 963 000 pupils from all other grades in the province are expected to return to school on 6 July.

So far, 10 teachers, three pupils and one supporting staffer have tested positive for Covid-19 in the province. 

ALSO READ | Cosas calls for mass testing of pupils, vows to shut down schools

Chuene said three schools in the province have been closed due to cases of Covid-19.

She said plans moving forward would be announced soon.

"We are still in a session with the portfolio committee on progress on our plans," Chuene said.

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba recently spoke out against closing schools and other institutions "because Covid-19 is still going to be with us".

Ramathuba was speaking about the surge in the number of cases in regions where at some stage there were no confirmed Covid-19 cases.

By Thursday morning, the number of cases in the province were at 680.

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