As president Cyril Ramaphosa announced the month-long school closure for public schools last night, Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said a two-week closure of schools for all grades would have been better.
According to IOL, Schäfer said that a four-week closure is not in the best interest of learners and that it isn’t backed up by available medical evidence.
Schäfer said she feels disappointed but not surprised “that the president has capitulated to the union’s demands”.
“I believe that this decision is going to cost South Africa dearly in the future, and it is once again the poor who are going to suffer the most,” she said.
Public schools will close for a month from Monday, July 27, returning on August 24 and Grade 12 learners and their teachers will close for a week, returning on August 3.
While Grade 7 learners will return to school in two weeks, returning on August 10.
The president said the decision was not taken lightly and that Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga had consulted with more than 60 education stakeholders to come to this decision.
The Western Cape Education Department said it was disappointed with the decision.
“We supported having a break for two weeks on the basis that many of our teachers and learners have been working during the lockdown.
“It has been an anxious time while putting new processes in place, and there is no real holiday provided in the current calendar for the rest of the year. This should be a complete break for people to rest and anxiety levels to dissipate,” the department said.
“An additional four weeks is going to cause immeasurable damage to our children and our economy. People who continue calling for schools to shut down clearly either do not understand the implications on the system and the children, or do not care.”
The decision to close schools comes one week after several teachers’ unions demanded that Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga shut down schools immediately amid the Covid-19 peak in South Africa.