Despite department of basic education minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement on Sunday July 5 that Grade R, 6 and 11 pupils would return to school this week, provincial officials in the Eastern Cape have chosen to further delay their return until July 20.
Motshekga said the decision to allow more pupils to return to school came after extensive consultation.
“We have sought and obtained advice from scientists, medical and education experts, which inform the decisions that we make . . .” she said.
However, she acknowledged that not every school may be fully prepared to handle the necessary health and safety requirements needed.
“The Council of Education Ministers [CEM] agreed that those provinces that are not ready to receive pupils must provide strategic and realisable plans for ensuring the reincorporation of Grade R learners to school within, but no later than, the end of July,” she said.
As recently reported by the Daily Dispatch, Eastern Cape officials believe the province is one of those that is currently unprepared.
A Provincial Instruction Note sent out by the provincial education department superintendent general Temba Kojana, and seen by the Dispatch, stated that a new schedule had been drawn up that would see pupils return only from July 20, with other grades phased in until August 10.
The decision to further delay the reopening of schools comes as parents and pupils are calling for the department to consider just scrapping the 2020 academic year all together and start again in the new year.
A recent Ask Afrika survey found that the majority of parents and pupils supported starting over.
“Having lost a significant portion of the school year to the lockdown, 68% of parents and pupils believe the school year should be repeated in 2021.
“Youth aged 16 to 24 years feel even more strongly about this, with 71% arguing that the pandemic cost too much time and that the school year should be repeated.