The impasse between Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and teacher unions over the unions’ demand of a total shutdown of schooling due to the spiralling Covid-19 pandemic is set to continue this week, IOL reported.
According to teacher union leaders, Motshekga promised that she would present their demands to the cabinet, the nine provincial MECs for education and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) before making any final decision on the matter.
By Sunday evening, union leaders said Motshekga had not responded to their call following her consultation with cabinet on Saturday.
SAOU executive director Chris Klopper urged teachers to report for duty while waiting for Motshekga’s report. Klopper, however, said his union was not in favour of the closure saying Motshekga must provide “scientific evidence” that it was in the best interest of teachers and learners to close schools.
Other unions, however, were still hopeful that Motshekga would heed their call. Naptosa’s executive director Basil Manuel said his union was still also waiting for Motshekga to respond.
“It will be normal schooling on Monday until the Minister reacts to our demands. We did not expect her to announce that there will be no schooling on Monday. Teachers still have various things to do before closing the schools. We are expecting her response this week,” Manuel said.
National Teachers Union president Alan Thompson said their meeting with Motshekga did not have an “outcome”.
Thompson said most unions had unanimously stated to Motshekga that schools should be closed with immediate effect.
“We also asked the Minister to assist teachers with devices to allow them to have non-contact with their learners. They can provide teachers with data or laptops so they must continue teaching while the peak is continuing,” Thompson said.
He, however, said priority should be given to Grade 12’s saying they should be allowed to return to school early after the peak had subsided.
According to Thompson, teachers also raised concerns about a number of schools in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga which were unable to open due to lack of water and running toilets.
‘Those were unable to open as they were not Covid-19 compliant. They had no personal protective equipment. We told the Minister she should provide water tanks and mobile toilets to the schools. We offered to assist them with learning to allow them to sit for exams. Some of the affected pupils are Grade 12’s,” Thompson said.
He said that Motshekga had promised to reply to their demands after consulting with cabinet, the nine provincial MECs for education and the National Coronavirus Command Council.