Tag: schools

Covid-19 News: Sadtu seeks answers from Motshekga over PPEs, safety

The SA Teachers Democratic Union (Sadtu) and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga are set to meet over allegations of fraud and corruption in the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the safety of teachers and learners at schools.

The union, in its meeting to take place this week, wants to raise several complaints of corruption following accusations by its members that tenders to provide PPEs at schools were given to companies and individuals without any procurement procedures.

Sadtu deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi said: “The union will engage the department to finalise all the issues affecting the substitution of teachers and education personnel including the provision of quality PPEs from the week of July 27.

“Any intransigence by the department which is informed by the prerogative instead of genuine consultations will be brutally challenged. The unions are not spectators they are required by law to be consulted.”

He reiterated their call for members to stop the alleged looting of equipment which, according to the union, was taking place under the guise of ensuring the safety of learners and teachers.

“We are calling on all our structures to unapologetically disrupt the plans of these ‘disaster capitalists’ who see our collective suffering as an opportunity to accumulate wealth by exposing and reporting them to the authorities.”

He added that Sadtu “welcomed the attempts” by President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that looters are brought to book through the presidential proclamation to authorise the Special Investigating Unit to investigate corruption allegations in any state body during the state of disaster.

Dolopi emphasised that civil action to recover the stolen funds should be a priority of government.

 Meanwhile, government has made a call for unemployed education graduates to apply for Covid-19 posts at various schools in the country.

Motshekga made the job offers after more than 16000 teachers with comorbidities applied and were granted permission to work from home.

Her spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga had earlier said that the auditor-general had been asked to probe irregularities in the acquisition of PPEs in schools.

 

Source: Political Bureau

Education: Schools remain open until further notice.

As pressure mounts for schools to close amid a surge in Covid-19 infections in South Africa, the Department of Basic Education says they remain open until further notice, as Minister Angie Motshekga engages with stakeholders in the sector. 

Schools have been a talking point since their reopening on 8 June, when most Grade 7 and 12 pupils returned to classrooms.

Teachers’ unions, many parents and some experts were prompted to heighten their calls for schools to remain closed after pupils and teachers started testing positive across the country.

On Tuesday, after holding a special national executive committee meeting, Sadtu, the country’s largest teachers’ union, announced it had resolved that schools close during the period, stating that its decision was motivated by among, other things, evolving science, News24 reported.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) has also been among those that have come out with a similar resolution that the sector closes shop, at least for the period when a Covid-19 surge is expected.

Motshekga was expected to engage the unions on Wednesday, but the meetings had to be cancelled as she would be in broad consultations with stakeholders in the sector.

According to the department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, the purpose of the meetings, which will conclude on Friday, was to discuss the peak of the pandemic and its relation to schools.

The engagements will inform the minister’s proposals to the Cabinet at the weekend. Once all the engagements have been concluded, an announcement will be made to create certainty for the sector. We wish to restate that the decision to reopen schools was taken by Cabinet after extensive consultation which culminated in the phased approach to the resumption of duty in the sector. Schools remain open until further notice,” Mhlanga said in a statement on Wednesday.

Unions calling for the temporary closure have stated it would not be possible for the entire school year to be scrapped. They have said the department could use the period when schools are closed to map out a plan that would ensure pupils return to safe environments once the peak is over.

Covid-19: Public Servants Association wants Ramaphosa to close schools.

The Public Servants Association, which represents thousands of teachers and administrative staff in schools across South Africa, on Tuesday reiterated its call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to order that learning institutions close in light of surging new Covid-19 infections.

In a statement on Tuesday, the PSA said should schools remain open and all grades return to class, some 18 million leaners would move around daily to attend school, resulting in family members being more exposed to the virus.

It said it had written a letter to Ramaphosa highlighting that several teachers had already succumbed to the virus, while others, including principals and support staff, were infected and experiencing severe symptoms in some cases.

“With more grades returning to the schooling system and the current infection rate increasing steeply, more educators and supports staff will run the risk of being infected,” it said.

There is no rationale for limiting the number of people who attend church services and funerals, but schools with more than 1,000 learners will be open. Many schools now have deceased educators and learners who are traumatised.”

The association said it made no sense to keep schools open when the higher education sector had already amended its current academic year to conclude next March.

“With the new student intake only taking place from March 2021, the department of basic education effectively has leeway until early 2021 to conclude the academic year,” it said.

“The PSA therefore urges President Ramaphosa to urgently intervene and close schools and amend the academic year for schools to coincide with the higher education sector to curtail the spread of the virus to lessen the impacts on the health system and prevent the loss of lives.”

Source : African News Agency/ANA

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Covid-19: Teachers forced to choose between jobs and safety amid rising cases at school

Vereeniging’s General Smuts High School principal has allegedly concealed a spike in infections and threatened staff paid by the school’s governing body (SGB) with “no work, no pay” if fees are lost through closure, The Star reported.

Allegations are that principal Morena Mohapi has not followed hygiene procedures and opted not to inform the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) that four teachers and a Grade 12 learner tested positive for the killer disease over the past week.

One teacher is in critical condition in hospital suffering from respiratory distress, while two others are quarantined at the school’s hostel that caters for more than 120 learners.

Altogether, General Smuts has more than 1 200 learners.

Mohapi, sources said, only closed the Grade 12 learner’s classroom and had not begun decontamination of the school or informed GDE officials to come and conduct a risk assessment.

The principal is also accused of threatening SGB-paid staff with “no work, no pay” if the school is forced to close for decontamination, according to The Star.

“SGB staff were informed by Mr Mohapi that the reason he doesn’t want to close the school or alert parents is that he is afraid school fees will be withheld and staff won’t be paid.”

“Our lives are in danger, my child – we are terrified to the point of shaking. But what is better; to lose our income or lose our lives?” asked an insider, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“Other schools here in the Vaal closed when they recorded positive Covid-19 cases, even if it was for 14 days, but Mr Mohapi refuses to close the school down.He only closed one classroom, the one the Grade 12 learner was in.”

“The Grade 12 learner’s mother passed away and was buried on Monday. The learner has still not returned to school following his positive result and his mother’s burial,” another source said.

Speaking on the school’s behalf, GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona did not answer The Star whether the department had been informed about Covid-19 positive tests at General Smuts High School.

 

Sources: The Star, IOL

Photo Credit:African News Agency (ANA)

EDUCATION:Major changes for school timetables in South Africa

The Department of Basic Education is looking at making major changes to school timetables in an effort to maintain social distancing at schools according to Business Tech.

Presenting to parliament on Tuesday (30 June), director-general Mathanzima Mweli said that the department is considering a plan to amend the timetable to ensure that only 50% of the total learner enrolment is present at any given time.

Spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, Elijah Mhlanga, presented examples of how this differentiated timetabling will work.

In the first example, schools would adopt a bi-weekly rotational system where 50% of total learners in the school would attend in one week based on their grade.

The learners that did not attend school in the first week would then attend school in week 2.

An alternative proposal would see students go to school every other day based on their grade.

The third proposal, known as ‘platooning’, would see all students go to school every day, but alternating between a morning (session 1)  and an afternoon session (session 2).

Mhlanga said his department was considering a hybrid-model which will use all three models as well as retaining the current timetable model.

This means that there would effectively be five different timetable options which could be introduced across the country’s schools.

Mhlanga added that these models are being used by other countries as part of their fight against the coronavirus pandemic and is the only way to adhere to health, safety and social-distancing requirements.

The department further outlined the advantages and disadvantages of each system as below.

Bi-weekly

 

Advantages

  • The timetable will be easy to design to ensure social distancing;
  • The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) will be possible and enable learners to have a decent meal and social distancing;
  • Better control over learners to manage social distancing and learner discipline (more teachers can assist the grades);
  • Ample time to prepare for unforeseen circumstances (such as absenteeism).

Disadvantages

  • Learners must be given homework that must be done over a whole week;
  • For the lower grades the amount of work that must be done at home for a week might be too much to comprehend;
  • On the return during the second week, more focus will be on revision and catch-up on what learners remember or comprehend after a week;
  • Learners will only benefit every second week from NSNP;
  • Not all learners have access to online resources during the week.

Daily rotation

Advantages

  • Frequent screening of learners to trace absenteeism;
  • NSNP will be possible and enable learners to have a decent meal and social distancing;
  • Tuition will be more frequent and assessment will be more regular;
  • The increased frequency will encourage learners to be more focused on schoolwork;
  • Teachers more effective and constructive in learner tuition.

Disadvantages

When teachers are absent due to illness this option makes it a slight challenge to have replacement on short notice.

Platooning

 

Advantages

  • Learners will be present on a daily basis.

Disadvantages

  • Transport challenges for learners to go to schools, especially for the second session;
  • More workload on teachers and longer working hours;
  • Classes will have to start early in the morning, increasing the chances of flu due to the cold winter weather.

 

Source: BusinessTech

Photo Credit:  BusinessTech

 

 

COMMUNICATION KEY TO HELPING YOUR CHILD NAVIGATE THE NEW NORMAL AT SCHOOL

With more grades returning to school in coming weeks, in line with South Africa’s phased back-to-school approach, parents and guardians should keep the lines of communication open through frank conversations and feedback, an education expert says.

“Our children are being faced with many challenges from different fronts during this time, and despite their schools being familiar spaces, that to which they are returning is looking different to the way it did before,” says John Luis, Head of Academics at ADvTECH Schools.

“On the homefront, they would have been exposed to the concerns around fear of Covid-19, the economic impact of the lockdown, keeping their educational journeys on track despite not being physically in school, and many other stressors,” he notes.

And although the economy and schools are opening up again, with the daily lives of South Africans returning to some new version of normality, children will still have to grapple with many, and new challenges, in the weeks and months to come.

“It’s important that parents help students understand – in an age-appropriate way – that although we are going back to ‘normal’, things will be different for quite some time still, and to help them prepare mentally and emotionally for the changes that may be on the cards.

“Parents should also be realistic and not expect students to bounce back into the school groove immediately – it is going to take some time to adjust to reshuffled curricula on the one hand, and the logistical requirements around staying as safe as possible for the foreseeable future, while the virus remains a threat. So, children must be prepared for the reality that although they are getting back into a school routine, things will still be very different from the way they were before. And this should not be viewed in a negative light, but rather accepted and embraced as the new way we’ll live our lives for now,” says Luis.

He says as a first step, parents should study the information they received from schools, so that they understand how adjusted logistics will work, what will be expected from students in terms of mask wearing and social distancing, as well as any other novel processes and procedures. These should then be shared and discussed with students to ensure they are not caught off-guard by how things have changed on the campus.

“Parents have an important role to play in helping their children understand the situation, acknowledging their emotional responses, and helping them navigate these feelings in a healthy way,” says Luis.

It is also necessary to design and start implementing new routines, he says.

“School times may be staggered, and there will be no extra-murals, so the school day will also look different. Parents who work may need to consider how they are going to manage these changed logistics, and must devise a plan for how the day will look going forward. Children would have, to some degree, become used to taking the day and their own time management on their own terms, so waking up very early again while it is still dark, and sticking to a stricter routine, may take some getting used to.

“There are many examples such as these, some minor and some major, of how the days and the lives of our children will be changing. These will also take their toll, which is why communication is so important, and also an acceptance of the fact that everyone is trying to find their groove again, but that it isn’t always going to be easy. We as parents have to be kind to ourselves in this regard, and also allow our children the space and support to find their own feet again on their educational journey.”

Very importantly, some allowance has to be made for the fact that some students might return to find that some of their peers have, during lockdown, mastered work which they have not yet.

“Educators are very aware of this reality, and will be doing all they can to get everyone on the same page once more. It is not worth adding undue pressure at this stage, which will only introduce additional anxiety for children, and between children and their parents. If a child is concerned about ‘being behind’, put their mind at ease that you will address the matter together, and speak to the teacher to get guidance,” says Luis.

“The key to the coming transition, is to understand that things will be different and challenging at first for most, but that with understanding and regular, open communication, the road will become increasingly less rocky.”

Source: ADvTECH, Meropa

Photo Credit : Unsplash

The ADvTECH Group, a JSE-listed company, is Africa’s largest private education provider and a continental leader in quality education, training, skills development and placement services. The Group reports its performance in a segmental structure reflecting the Schools and Tertiary as two separate education divisions, and Resourcing as the third division.

ADvTECH’s Schools division comprises 10 brands with more than 100 schools across South Africa, including Gaborone International School in Botswana and Crawford International in Nairobi, Kenya.

It owns 9 tertiary brands, across 30 campuses across South Africa and the rest of Africa, and its higher education division, The Independent Institute of Education, is SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider. ADvTECH’s 9 resourcing brands places thousands of candidates annually, assisting graduates to make the transition from the world of study to the world of work.

A beautiful letter from a teacher to struggling parents.

A beautiful letter from a teacher to struggling  parents.

A teacher from Johannesburg, Tessa MacMurray wrote this heartfelt open letter to all the parents in lockdown.

 

“Dear Parents,

 

I see you. In fact, with our recent transition to virtual classrooms and distance-learning, I am seeing you more than ever. I have seen your art, your unmade beds, your pyjamas as you walk past carrying coffee and your misbehaving pets.

 

I see you exhausted, dishevelled and working in the background whilst your child reads beautifully.

I see your shadow across the screen as you whisper the answers to your child.

I see you play-acting to be wearing pants during parent interviews, even though I can see you are not, and I appreciate you for pretending.

 

I see you in WhatsApp videos exhausted, chasing after your child as they ride away on their bikes and the dogs surround you, and still I can hear the smile in your voice despite being outnumbered and overwhelmed. This is courage.

 

I see you second-guessing yourself. You are more than enough, as I am in awe. Your child is smiling on my screen and they have managed some work today, in my book you are winning

 

I see your cursive writing on your child’s worksheet, pretending to be the work of a seven-year-old boy. Please be aware your son has not learned cursive yet, and it will probably never be that neat! Although if you would like me to assess your writing, please know you are doing very well according to Grade 2 assessment standards.

 

I see your raised eyebrow because I only own 4 reputable looking jerseys, and I am wearing the blue one again.

I see how happy your child is to be spending so much time with you. Despite the fights. I see your child, years from now, telling people this was on of their happiest times with you.

 

I see your immense kindness when your child is just not “getting” their Maths. I hear you taking a deep breath and explaining it again, gently and calmly.

 

I see you having a massive argument with your child because you forgot to turn off the recording and they are sprinting away from you into the garden! I am sitting there wishing your child speed and you luck.

 

I see you are worried. I cannot take that worry away but know that when we return to the classroom I will do everything in my power to make school feel safe again, encourage laughter and help them to learn as much as humanly possible.

 

I see your alcohol stores have run low and I am sending you a virtual bottle of bubbly to celebrate you and your child. Please take a sip for every sentence that was read and every sum you helped to completer. I am proud because bravery is contagious and I see it trickling through your child and believe me, I know where it comes from.

 

I see you baking cakes when I understand your need to relax in front of mindless television.

 

I see you making your child’s day because you sat down to dinner with them. In their Weekend report, your child mentioned it was the best part of their whole week.

 

I see the note you helped your child type, to thank me for the video lesson. I saved that note as my screensaver, that encouragement meant more than you know.

 

I see your fatigue. The time for us to swap roles once again is fast approaching, I will be waiting at the classroom door, watching your sigh of relief with a smile.”

 

Source: Goodthingsguy

Photo Credit: Unsplash

department-of-education

Gauteng online application for Grades 1 and 8

Date released for Gauteng online application for Grades 1 and 8

 

The online application process to place pupils in Grade 1 and Grade 8 for the 2021 academic year is set to open on the 25th of June.

 

According to News24, MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that the system usually remains open for three months, but will now only run for one month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“We are making it for a month, purely because we are in the middle of a lockdown and it was very difficult to open the online registration,”he said according to news24.

 

Lefusi said the Gauteng department of education was already receiving inquiries, making the decision to limit the application period to one month rather difficult. He added he would announce further details closer to the opening date.

 

The online applications will close on 25 July.

 

Last year’s online application process was delayed and postponed after the department had to resolve concerns raised by school governing bodies.

 

In 2019, the Gauteng department of education conducted the application process in three phases:

 

Phase 1

  • Registration and application first
  • Parents could apply to a maximum of five schools, using any of the five application options by 22 July 2019

 

Phase 2

  • The placement of pupils
  • Parents received offers of placement from schools based on admission criteria and availability of space and resources, from 31 August to 30 September 2019.

 

Phase 3

  • Admission to a school

 

The Department has urged parents to be ready to apply once the application process starts on 25 June 2020

 

Source: News24

opinions

Parents raise their opinions about schools reopening

Parents raise their opinions about schools reopening

The announcement of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshega that schools are set to reopen on June 1 has been met with mixed reactions from parents.

 

Some parents are positive about their children returning, and some are clearly concerned about the safety measures in place at the schools.

 

Here are some reactions from the parents according to the Sunday Independent.

Nono Likhoeli said rushing her 8-year-old daughter back to school while Covid-19 infections are increasing daily would be irresponsible.

 

“The virus supposedly thrives in winter, so why reopen schools at the beginning of one of the coldest months of the year?” she asked.

 

“I also understand that we’ve never dealt with anything of this magnitude, so the schools can’t possibly be prepared either.” While admitting to being frustrated with home-schooling her daughter, who is in Grade 2, Likhoeli said she’d rather continue with it than send her back to school next month.

 

“I’d need to know how well prepared her school is and that will require a meeting with the principal, teachers and other parents to find out what measures the school has put in place. There are 36 learners in a class. I’m worried about how social distancing will be applied to 36,  8-year-olds.”she added

 

Fathers Doctor Khumalo and Sinaye Mdaka said their children would not be going back to school this year while the country battled the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

“It’s one of those tough decisions, but I guess she will have to lose this academic year because I won’t sacrifice my child for the sake of a government’s pilot project,” said Khumalo, while Mdaka suggested that classrooms should rather be converted into quarantine wards and only be reopened for schooling next year.

 

“I will not take the gamble. At my daughter’s age, there won’t be any social distancing among her peers and I believe that they will also share food and masks, leading to infections spreading fast among them. Children can make up for a missed grade,” added Mdaka.

 

However, some parents said they were ready for their children to return to school and continue with this year’s curriculum.

Jane Peterson, a mother of twins from Joburg North, believes her sons, who are in Grade 10, will return to school.

 

“I have no intentions of home-schooling the twins and, although the school has offered some support, I really think they need to return to school.Proper measures have been put in place and I believe every parent has done their best to educate their little ones. Life has to go back to normal some day,” she said.

 

Themba Gasela, a father of two from Joburg, was confident that his children, who are in Grade 7 and Grade 5, have nothing to fear.

 

“My belief is that this virus has been blown way out of proportion.Sure, there are many fatalities across the world with the number sitting at over 300 000, but when you consider that over 200 000 people die daily from various causes, then you get a sense of why I say it’s exaggerated.”

 

Also, he said data was available to show that Covid-19 fatalities were largely among the elderly and sickly.

 

“It is because of these reasons that I am okay with sending my children back to school.The worldwide media focus on this virus is what causes the fear, but in truth less than 5% of infections end up in death.” He added

 

Phyllis Ramafoko’s main worry is whether the backlog will be covered with the same professionalism and care.

 

“I don’t mind their return. I just need to make sure she has her sanitisers and mask at all times when she leaves home and if each class will have its own protective equipment, like how it’s done in shops.

 

“I am confident that classes can resume and be back to normal,” said the mother of a Grade 11 pupil.

 

Source: IOL, Sunday Independent

department-of-education

Gauteng’s plan for school reopening

Gauteng’s plan for school reopening: The Gauteng Department of Education expects about 300 000 Grade 7 and 12 pupils when schools reopen on 1 June.

 

Panyaza Lesufi, Education MEC  said that before the reopening can take place, health protocols will have to be met by all schools.

 

Cleaning:

  • Schools will be allocated more than R15 000 to start deep cleaning in preparation for 1 June.
  • Officials from the district will inspect the premises to observe whether it is ready or not.
  • The Department of Health will then issue a certificate of occupation, deeming the school clean and safe.

 

“Our approach in Gauteng is as follows: PPEs must arrive first, and the principal will arrive to receive (them).

The principal will wait for SMT (school management teams) PPEs. When PPEs for SMT arrive, the principal will then ask SMTs to come back, and when PPEs for learners come, that’s when we will call for learners.”

 

“It’s PPEs first, then resumption of responsibilities. Where there are no PPEs, we are not going to risk educators or learners to come to our school,” the MEC said.

 

School Guidelines

  • Mobile classrooms have also been procured for schools that were vandalised during the lockdown.
  • The department has also put in place strict control guidelines in schools, and these include a no visitors approach.
  • Anyone who may want to visit a school would need to get permission from the district and head office.
  • All schools must ensure that there is one entrance and exit.
  • Schools are also expected to be fenced, and strangers will not be allowed to interact with pupils.
  • Pupils will have to wear masks before entering the premises, and officials will screen and sanitise at the entrance.
  • The lunch break period will be split between the different classes to avoid overcrowding, and pupils qualifying for the School Nutrition Programme will be catered for.
  • Classrooms will be marked, and one pupil will occupy each table. No class will have more than 20 pupils.
  • The department said, while pupils will be provided with at least two masks a week, parents are urged to provide masks on the first day of school.
  • Once the pupils arrive at school on the first day, they will receive additional masks.
  • Teachers and pupils will be screened three times a day – on arrival, break, and when they return home.
  • “Areas out of bounds, playing fields and soccer fields, will be cordoned off immediately with a red tape.”
  • Schools will also have isolation points for pupils showing high temperatures – and will be linked to local clinics for support.

 

Source:  news24

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