Provinces 'need more time' on the reopening of schools, verdict due after Monday
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is expected to convene a meeting to consider the progress made towards reopening schools across the country.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the main purpose for the meeting will be to get an update on the work done by provinces, including the deliveries of Covid-19 essentials to help curb the spread of the virus when schools reopen.
Mhlanga said provinces indicated on Monday that they needed more time while they wait for the deliveries of personal protection equipment from the supplier.
Motshekga said an agreement was reached on Monday that one week was needed to finalise the outstanding matters.
She said she would only give a report on the state of readiness after a second meeting on Monday May 18.
“A lot of work has happened and we are happy with the progress reported in the last meeting, but we need confirmation of deliveries that provinces were waiting for,” she said.
The delays in the deliverables were attributed to challenges with the supplier of PPE, which resulted in the cancellation of contracts, she said. Various provinces had to find new suppliers to deliver the material this week.
“In the meeting on Monday we will receive a full report, which we can then share with the public. We will also use the meeting to table President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address, which is also important for our planning purposes,” said Motshekga.
Director-general of the department Mathanzima Mweli said the implementation of the basic education sector risk-based differentiated approach in reopening schools would be assisted by the president’s address.
“We will convene a special meeting of the heads of education departments from all provinces and the minister will meet with MECs on Monday to discuss the progress made. Thereafter we will announce to public,” he said.
“Nobody has experience in managing a crisis of this magnitude, so we follow expert advice. That's why we need to be extremely careful how we proceed in every step.”
Mweli said the basic education sector plan was based on saving lives while saving the academic year. Risk assessment and mitigation, as well as monitoring and evaluation, are important safeguards of the plan.
“The minister will address a media briefing after receiving full reports from all provinces on the readiness to open schools. We appeal for patience as we work to find the best way forward under the circumstances,” he added.