Frustrated teachers’ unions await Motshekga’s school closure decision

more grades go back to school

Teachers' unions wants schools immediately closed. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Teachers’ unions are losing patience as they await feedback from Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga on the closure of schools amid a growing number of infections across the country. 

On Sunday night, deputy basic education minister Reginah Mhaule and a task team asked the country’s top five teachers’ unions for proposals on why schools should be closed.

The task team comprised five provincial education MECs, Kwazi Mshengu from KwaZulu-Natal, Panyaza Lesufi (Gauteng), Debbie Schafer (Western Cape), Wendy Matsemela (North West) and Polly Boshielo (Limpopo).

In their three-page proposals addressed to Motshekga, unions said schools must close immediately and only reopen at the end of next month, once Covid-19 infections had peaked.

They further proposed that matric learners should return on August 17 and the other grades return at the end of August.

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said on Monday that the minister has concluded the consultation process with stakeholders, and is now processing a comprehensive report of this process to submit to the NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council) and Cabinet. 

Meanwhile, the Educators Union of SA (Eusa) has vowed to forcibly shut down schools saying that “a dead teacher cannot teach and a dead learner cannot learn.”

Eusa president Sicelo Bhengu told The Star that his union and its allies were not afraid of law enforcement, and were prepared to be arrested.

Bhengu added that if Motshekga did not announce the closure of schools to curb the spread of the virus, Eusa would embark on a programme of shutting down schools, which the union believes are not compliant with health regulations.