Over 98% of principals and school management teams (SMTs) apparently reported for duty on Monday.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Education is confident that all systems will be ready for the reopening of schools in the Province by June 8, after over 98% of principals and school management teams (SMTs) apparently reported for duty on Monday.
Several unions, however, are still not happy, adding that several workers had to return home after reporting for duty as their work environments were apparently not safe.
The department announced last week that the reopening of schools for pupils in the Province would be moved from June 1 to June 8. School principals and SMTs were expected to report for duty on Monday, June 1, followed by teachers on Wednesday, June3.
According to the department, most school principals and SMTs reported for duty on Monday ahead of next week’s expected return of Grade 7 and 12 pupils.
According to the department, three districts in the Northern Cape, namely Pixley ka Seme, ZF Mcqawu and Namaqua, had a 100% turnout of principals and SMTs on Monday. Schools in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District reportedly had a 98% attendance rate while Frances Baard had 99% attendance.
Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said on Monday that the principals were in charge of monitoring the process of disinfecting all the buildings at their respective schools.
“From the attendance rate, we are confident that all systems will be ready for the reopening of schools (for pupils on June 8),” Ntuane said.
He said that the main reason for absenteeism was due to the difficulty some staff members had logging onto the system. “In most instances, the principals did report for duty but couldn’t log on because their passwords had expired.”
Meanwhile, the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU)’s provincial secretary, Henk Brand, said the union had received no complaints from its members in the Northern Cape on Monday.
“That means they are sorted and satisfied. We expect them to be ready to welcome the teachers back on Wednesday,” said Brand.
The Professional Educators Union (PEU), however, indicated that it had advised its members not to return to work and has accused the department of not having the interests of the teachers to heart.
According to the provincial secretary of the PEU, Neo Letsholo, they are still awaiting the audited checklist of measures taken by the department to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus at schools.
Letsholo added that the staggered reopening of schools would affect disadvantaged schools and put children at risk. “The department did not apply a parallel system and we believe that every institution of learning should be treated with equal value and respect.
“We are all looking forward to the reopening of schools but the department must also follow all procedures. The reopening should not be at the expense of our members and disadvantaged children.”
He said that the union had sent out a memorandum to its members not to report for duty until the audited checklist was made available.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) indicated that it had also advised some of its members to return home after they found their working environment unsafe and unhealthy.
The provincial secretary of Sadtu, Palesa Nqumashe, said that some schools had not yet received their PPEs and some were also dirty.
“We received several complaints in all the districts that there were no masks and water tanks had also not been delivered at some schools. On top of the water challenges at some schools, there were instances where the toilets were not working,” elaborated Nqumashe.
She said they were still busy collating the information they received and would compile a report, which, she added, would be discussed on Tuesday at the scheduled meeting with the department and all stakeholders.