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Nearly half of SA’s schools are not ready to reopen on Monday – survey

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The results of a survey conducted by teacher unions paint a bleak picture of the readiness to open schools on Monday. “Progress has been made but not enough to guarantee the safety of both teachers and learners,” read the survey findings.

File picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency(ANA)

WHILE schools in the Northern Cape will only reopen on June 8, after the provincial Department of Education admitted that it was not ready to reopen schools on Monday, a joint survey conducted by South Africa’s teacher unions has shown that nationally no more than 55% of principals report being ready to resume teaching and learning on June 1. 

The DFA’s sister newspaper the Sunday Independent was given exclusive access to the results of the survey.

The survey, which was completed on Friday, was conducted to strengthen the collaboration between the Basic Education Department and unions who share the goal of ensuring that schools are safe for teachers and pupils to return. A total of 6 616 principles across the country participated in the online survey.

The school principals were asked questions related to institutional readiness and school management processes necessary for the return of pupils on Monday, June 1.

The survey was based on the Department of Basic Education’s guidelines and requirements such as the progress nationally in: delivery of sanitisers, contact with circuit managers, availability of cleaning materials for sanitisation, cleaning of classrooms and offices and contact with school governing bodies (SGBs).

In terms of adequate water for Covid-19 cleaning, the results show that Gauteng and the Western Cape scored above 80 percent in terms of readiness while the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga scored low, with the Eastern Cape a mere 40 percent.

In terms of provision of face masks, all provinces scored below 25 percent except the Western Cape which scored 84 percent.

The leaked survey concluded that some challenges are common across as many as six provinces, such as 

* inadequate water for Covid-19 requirements (6 provinces); 

* water tanks that are required not yet delivered (6 provinces); 

* insufficient masks delivered (two per person) (8 provinces). 

Some provinces have multiple challenges (four challenges or more). Leading in this category is the Eastern Cape (9) and Mpumalanga (9), Limpopo (6), North West (5), KZN (4) and the Northern Cape (4).  

The results paint a bleak picture of the readiness to open schools on Monday. “Progress has been made but not enough to guarantee the safety of both teachers and pupils,” read the survey findings.

Based on these findings the unions are of the view that: “Once schools have the material necessities for return, educators and support staff can return. Once the teaching and support staff return – planning for teaching can commence.”

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, will brief the media to provide an update on the readiness for the reopening of schools on Sunday at 6pm.