The Teacher Unions have shown that they are not happy that more pupils will be returning to school on Monday. They are asking the department of education to wait till August. The South Africa Teachers unions are in total disagreement with the return of Grades R, 6 and 11 to school next week Monday.
The Unions claimed that are worried about the safety of teachers and pupils in school due to the coronavirus increase. This is after a report that South Africa was faced with the imminent peak of the Covid-19.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) executive director Basil Manuel said they are not in accordance with the decision by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga.
“We are not 100% happy because we are worried about the virus peaking. We did our research with other teachers and it showed that other provinces were not ready when the Grade 7s and 12s returned to school.
“We will go out and check if PPEs (personal protective equipment) have been delivered to schools. We are concerned about a comeback in July because of the reports that Covid-19 will peak in July. Why didn’t the department wait until August?
“If there is a peak coming, why are we rushing to get children back to school because now we have schools closing randomly,” said Manuel.
The President of National Teachers Union (NATU), Alan Thompson also made it clear said they don’t support Motshekga’s decision. The union claim that the education system is not ready to accept more pupils due to the situation on the ground.
Thompson said some school have not resume due to challenges and some schools have not received the essential protective material promised by the department.
“Teachers are overstretched because the department is reluctant to employ substitute teachers. We now have classes that have more than the agreed number of pupils.
“We still have two grades (7 and 12) and if you were to add three more grades, it means it is a recipe for disaster. Grade 11 is a very big class, and there is a serious backlog in that grade.
“It was not urgent for children to return to schools. We can tolerate Grade 12 pupils because it is the only opportunity to go to university. With other grades we can do remedial and formulate plans to recover lost time,” said Thompson.
President of the Professional Educators Union, Johannes Motona, also states that there is no deliberation with the unions before the decision was made by the education department. He states that many schools can not open because of the difficulties they are facing on the availability of water, sanitation and nutrition.
In Monota statement; “The manner in which they are deciding on issues […] there should have been consultation with us; [the department] should get our input as well before they go and meet with the Council of Education Ministers,”
He also adds that; “There are some issues that are not yet in order, for example, the issue of water and sanitation. We are not speaking about the phasing in of Grade 6 and 11 for now, but with the phasing in of Grade 12 and 7, there are still some backlogs”.
“At some schools, there is a problem with nutrition – food is not being delivered, there is no food.”
Monota also said that pressure is put on teachers by the department, especially in schools where compliance are not up to standard.
“Remember, we are talking about the safety of people, not forgetting the infection rate which is going up,” he said.
In Monota opinion, he said that the department is trying to save the academic year instead of concentrating on the health of teachers and students.
Also, the General Secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), Mugwena Maluleke said they have advised the department to reconsider its decision on school reopening.
He said with the two grade that returns to school in June 8, the education system is already overwhelmed and showing cracks. He said;
“We would have loved that no grades be brought back. We will continue engaging the department. We are worried that the numbers (positive cases) are going up. We believe that it will be disastrous for the department to proceed with Grade R class.
“The Grade R class should be introduced at a later stage when the numbers are not rising. Grade R pupils need a lot of care by nature and they also need social engagement and natural touch”.
“Parents are the arbiter and have a right not to bring Grade R pupils back to school.
“Teachers are outstretched and schools must not overwhelm the system.
“We don’t want overloaded schools. We would have loved a situation where extra grades were not introduced to the few that are there.”
The world is in a very critical condition, it is very important for us to follow all the instruction from the health department to prevent the spread of coronavirus.