Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has briefed the National Council of Provinces during her budget vote on Tuesday, and she is already drawing a firm line in the sand in regards to July’s ‘back to school’ date.
Third wave disruption feared for classrooms
Motshekga, who presided over a turbulent year for the education system during the first two waves of the pandemic, is likely to face similar challenges as infections continue to escalate in South Africa. On this occasion, time is on her side – and she still has seven weeks or so to make a decision. There is hope that infections may drop off by this point.
And yet, a wave of disease throughout the winter isn’t something that is easy to combat. Some parents and union members have already raised concerns about the chaos a third wave could create in South African schools – which have been frequently disrupted for the best part of the last 15 months. The second term will end on Friday 9 July.
Will July’s ‘back to school’ date stay in place?
Despite the anxieties, Angie Motshekga is steadfast in her judgement: She stated that primary learners WILL return to the classroom as planned for their third term of 2021, on Monday 26 July. The minister is wary of the ground educators have already lost since the onset of COVID-19 last year, and wants to bring back ‘some normality’ to our schools.
“We are currently faced with mounting evidence from our researchers of significant and continuing learning losses and… as a sector, have agreed that in the third term, pending what the infection rates are, we will start inviting all our primary school learners back to school, so that we can have some normality in the sector because it is affecting us badly.”
“On Wednesday 19 May, the Council of Education for Ministers unanimously supported full attendance of primary school learners at the beginning of the third term – which starts on Monday 26 July.”