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School readiness assessment a publicity stunt – union

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The union said the department had not given a clear picture of the preparedness of all schools in the Province for Monday’s scheduled reopening.

THE PROFESSIONAL Educators Union (PEU) has labelled the Northern Cape Department of Education’s assessment on Wednesday of the readiness of schools in the Province to reopen as a publicity stunt.

The department, along with teacher unions and the media, visited various schools in and around Kimberley to assess whether local schools were ready for the continuation of the academic year.

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced that Grade 12 and Grade 7 pupils would return to school on June 1.

PEU provincial secretary Neo Letsholo said the department had not given a clear picture of the preparedness of all schools in the Province for Monday’s scheduled reopening.

“The department selected certain schools to be assessed. The selection of schools is extremely imbalanced. Some of the selected schools have the capacity to accommodate the expected number of pupils going back, whereas others do not. At Pampierstad High School there are no sanitisers or personal protective equipment (PPE). Nothing at that school is in place and is quite a concern as schools are supposed to open on Monday. The assessment that was conducted was very biased and the situation at the schools selected for assessment is clearly not the same at all schools throughout the Province,” said Letsholo.

He said they recognised the efforts made by the department but added  that it might be a little too late.

“We do appreciate the efforts of the department to try and paint a positive picture about the return to school, however this picture is inaccurate. The MEC should have selected members and dispatched them to assess things at ground level. This entire exercise has been rushed. It is as though certain individuals are pushing an agenda and giving a very skewed picture to the minister on the readiness of the Province.”

He said the union continued to encourage teachers not to return to school on Monday.

“Teachers should not report to schools as it is not conducive at the moment. The department is trying to tick the boxes in order to give feedback to the minister that it has assessed all schools. However, there are still many of the Covid-19 safety requirements and regulations that the department has not adhered to. We cannot expose our teachers and pupils, as well as other education staff, to such dangers,” said Letsholo.