Almost all systems go in KZN as schools open
By Thobeka Ngema 34m ago
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Durban – IT APPEARED that KwaZulu-Natal was on the right path with safety ahead of the opening of schools today, but the National Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) was not convinced.
Yesterday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and director-general Mathanzima Mweli briefed the media on the state of readiness for the opening of schools against the backdrop of Covid-19.
It was established that in KZN all 5 890 schools reopened on January 25. Of the 100 533 teachers, 34 490 reported to work between February 1 and 5 and 95 383 reported between February 8 and 12.
Covid-19 orientation was conducted on February 1 for both teachers and support staff and it will be conducted today for all pupils.
All pupils, teachers and other staff were provided with masks and there was also provision for hand sanitisers, detergents, soap and heavy-duty gloves for cleaners.
The most popular timetabling option in KZN was alternative days.
Moreover, 2 550 teachers, 505 pupils and 403 non-staff have tested positive for Covid-19 since the lockdown and 196 teachers and 37 non-staff have died.
Naptosa provincial spokesperson Thirona Moodley said a survey undertaken by the joint unions found that 70% of schools were ready to open today.
“From what our members tell us, some of the schools have not received all of the basic essentials to make them Covid-compliant,” said Moodley.
Therefore, they were very concerned about schools opening today and would advise schools not to open if they do not have Covid essentials.
Moodley also said they were also worried about staffing because a number of teachers had died due to Covid.
Mweli said essentially all schools reopened except for a few, which were unable to start because of incidents such as inclement weather and storm damage.
“What is important here is orientation. The good thing is that we’ve got some lessons from 2020. We’re not coming in cold, we’re not blank in this environment, so those lessons will come in handy in helping us start the academic year,” said Mweli.
He said one issue was whether they had adequate Covid-19 essentials and the other issue was managing the stock of Covid-19 essentials so that schools did not run out.
“I must say that in this difficult fiscal environment we know that our economy has not been growing and the pandemic has just exacerbated the fiscal situation. Money is not readily available to deal with all of these things. We had to take money allocated for infrastructure to procure Covid essentials,” explained Mweli.
He said they were also going to continue with five model timetables that schools were advised to consider and would continue with alternating days and weeks.
Motshekga said readiness monitoring was focused on health and safety, school admissions, learner drop-out, the provision of teachers, the provision of learning and teaching support materials, curriculum management and assessment, the roll-out of information, communication and technologies, the national school nutrition programme, infrastructure delivery (with a focus on water and sanitation), learner transport for qualifying learners, and school safety and psychosocial support.
Meanwhile, DA education spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka there were various challenges in schools, ranging from the shortage of some five million textbooks, crumbling infrastructure, mud schools, water shortages, pit latrines in almost 1 100 schools, the massive need for more learner transport, school security and, to top it all, corruption.
If there had been no looting of state funds through shady backroom deals, there would be more money to do more, Keeka said.