Department insists schools ready for return
Schools have been sanitised, safety equipment bought and therapists hired to help ease teachers and pupils in the Eastern Cape back into schools, according to education department provincial head Themba Kojana.
The schools that were not ready would not reopen on Monday, he said, adding that the affected pupils would be moved to nearby schools.
Kojana was speaking during a panel discussion with education experts in The Herald-Nelson Mandela University Community Dialogue on Thursday.
Kojana was adamant the provincial education department was ready to welcome teachers and grade 7 and 12 pupils back to school on Monday.
His comments come as The Herald’s sister publication Daily Dispatch reported on Thursday that trucks transporting personal protective equipment (PPE) in parts of the province had been blocked from making deliveries by disgruntled local businesses who felt sidelined by the government in favour of companies from outside the province.
This has brought into question whether schools in the rural parts of the province would be ready to reopen next week.
Kojana said more than 220 SMMEs had received contracts to deliver PPE to schools.
“We’re following supply chain management processes.
“We’ve got forensic auditors because we know, once there’s something as big as this, it’s going to be subject to scrutiny.
“If someone isn’t delivering properly, we won’t pay that person.
“That’s the strategy we’ve employed,” he said.
Kojana believes his department had come a long way from its bad reputation as one that was underperforming.
“PPE is something we can source and give to teachers, and this has been done.
“The question of [more than 3,000] pit toilets [in the schools in the province] and PPE can’t be put in the same line.
“The Eastern Cape is not where it was.
“There’s stability in this province.
“We used to have a lot of mud structures in the Eastern Cape.
“There are a number of schools where we’re fixing toilets.
“It’s not that nothing’s happening in the Eastern Cape.
“There are 756 schools that don’t have water.
“We’ve delivered 480 tanks and these will be filled,” Kojana said.
He said the department had hired additional staff to provide psychosocial support to staff and pupils, and that staff were appointed to ensure social distancing was maintained at schools.
“Schools have been cleaned. Schools are ready,” Koyana said.
However, he admitted there were some infrastructure challenges — and pupils at those schools would be relocated to nearby schools.
“In terms of social distancing, even before June 1 we classified schools that had no sanitation as level 5; they won’t open.
“We’re transferring those pupils to nearby schools because construction won’t finish now.
“All our teachers have laptops with data and now we’re coming to pupils in rural areas.
“They will receive tablets with data for free.
“We’ve developed digital material on psychosocial support.
“There’s a plan.
“Principals are being orientated on Covid-19.
“In the Eastern Cape we’ve employed people to provide additional support to help with social distancing.
“The majority of schools have been cleaned,” he said.
Meanwhile, on another platform, senior education psychologist Lawrence Smither announced that the department had bought 47 laptops for psychologists and therapists to allow them to access a tele-help service to reach out to parents and pupils not integrated on the school system.
Watch the Community Dialogue here:
After nine weeks at home due to the nationwide lockdown, pupils have lost out on valuable teaching time. Can the school year be saved? Join us with political commentator Ongama Mtimka as we unpack this important topic in a panel discussion with education Professor Jonathan Jansen, and other experts.