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SA Human Rights Commission wrote to Education, Health and Cogta ministers to discuss ending rotational learning

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The Commission agrees with the Ministerial Advisory Committee that ‘all primary schools should open at full capacity.’

The Commission agrees with the Ministerial Advisory Committee that ‘all primary schools should open at full capacity.’ File Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

DURBAN – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has written to the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, the Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the termination of rotational learning in primary schools.

“The Commission holds that rotational learning has a long-lasting negative impact on learning outcomes for children and, as the Ministerial Advisory Committee advice states, that ‘the harms of learners attending school on a rotational basis – specifically the severe cognitive, nutritional, and psychosocial costs – exceed the benefits of reduced Covid-19 infections from smaller class sizes’,” said SAHRC spokesperson Gushwell Brooks.

“This would essentially mean that the Cogta minister needs to amend her directive by deleting the one metre social distancing requirement in respect of primary schools. We will also discuss the return to normal schools for high schools, in view of the fact that the Department of Health has commenced with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout for 12-year-olds,” Brooks said.

He said notwithstanding the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, the Commission had information that large numbers of primary schools around the country were continuing on rotational timetables and applied to rotate in 2022, as well. The reason for the rotation is a directive of the minister of Cogta providing that social distancing measures in primary schools should be maintained at one meter. Further, the Commission had also been made aware that the vast majority of schools in the Western Cape (86%) have applied for rotational timetables for the 2022 academic year.

Brooks said the Cogta directive compromised the ability of primary schools (where the very foundation of learning takes place) to return to normal teaching and learning, notwithstanding reduced transmission and virus acquisition rates among teachers and learners in these schools, as the majority of educators had been vaccinated. The Commission agrees with the Ministerial Advisory Committee that ’all primary schools should open at full capacity’.

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