- The Department of Education has responded to SADTU's call for SA schools to shut down
- This comes as South Africa continues to endure a spike in Covid-19 infections
- The Department explained that children, particularly the poor, were denied the right to education during the closure
The Department of Education has responded to the South African Democratic Teachers Union's call for the immediate closure of schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department made it clear that, ultimately, the decision over whether or not schools will close 'will be taken by Cabinet'.
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Department defended the decision to reopen schools amid the pandemic:
"One of the main reasons for the phased-in reopening of schools was to make sure the unfettered right to basic education for all children is equitably provided. During Alert Levels 5 and 4 of the national lockdown, most children from the most rural and remote areas of the country, especially learners from quintiles 1-3 schools, could not access any form of online teaching and learning."
The Department continued by explaining that this had prevented a large number of children were denied access to this basic right:
"This, inadvertently negatively affected these children's unfettered right to basic education. It is particularly the poor, who continue to be at risk if schools do not reopen."
The department assured the nation that the discussion over this sensitive subject is ongoing and may change:
"We would like to reiterate the fact that there are ongoing discussions in government and Cabinet regarding how the phased reopening of schools could maintain the moment but help to ease the pressure from the health system to focus on dealing with the peak of the pandemic. At the appropriate moment, Cabinet will take a decision on the matter."
Previously, Briefly.co.za reported that SADTU had fiercely criticised the decision to reopen schools amid rising infections.
The call came after a special meeting by the union’s national executive committee to discuss the spread of the virus at schools.
The union's secretary-general Mugwena Maluleke said its NEC resolved that schools close until the end of the peak Maluleke said the union had noted that evidence on the ground showed that there was no effective teaching and learning at schools during the current conditions.
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