Mmusi Maimane petition to close schools signed by nearly 200 000 people

Mmusi Maimane petition to close schools signed by nearly 200 000 people

An online petition started by Mmusi Maimane has been signed by nearly 200 000 people. The petition states that opening schools would be a risk to the lives of learners, teachers and support staff.

The former DA leader had also filed a bid to keep schools closed. This bid was denied by The Constitutional Court. Schools reopened on the 8th of June for grade 7 and grade 12. More grades have returned to schools since then.

Prof. Jansen open letter to DBE

Professor Jonathan Jansen has urged the Department of Education to keep schools closed since lockdown began. On the 9th of July, Prof. Jansen wrote an open letter to the minister of Basic Education. Professor Jansen argues that the school year can not be saved. He stresses in his letter that schools will not have the time to catch up. 

The last group of pupils will return to schools on the 31st of August, which is very close to the end of the year. Infections continue to rise amongst teachers, learners and school staff. This has created a disruptive pattern of schools constantly closing and reopening.

Prof. Jansen advises that the Department should remove pressure from the school system. He continues to state that the Department should not worry about well-established schools with more than enough resources. The department should serve children in poor and working class communities.

More people call for the closure of schools

A South African civils rights movement  called #notinmyname has called for schools to close down. The increase of COVID-19 cases in schools are very concerning. In an article by iol news, #notinmyname secretary general states that there is evidence that shows that children are safer at home. COVID-19 has forced every industry to find innovative ways to function. The education system should do the same. 

Janessa Urguhart, a campaigner for online learning, says no contact teaching is the solution. She states that the use of online platforms for education depend on accessibility. Online learning will only fully function when data costs decrease and when more people have access to digital resources. If this does not happen, many South Africans will be left behind. 

Before COVID-19,  the world was already becoming digitised. COVID-19 simply added pressure and forced people to adjust. Once we move past this COVID-19 era, many industries will not return to the way things were before. Governments need to find ways to include the poor and middle class in this digital transformation.

Motshekga meeting with teacher unions cancelled

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga cancelled a meeting with teacher unions. Executive director of NAPTOSA, Basil Manuel says it is important that the unions have a meeting with the minister. This is an urgent matter as teachers are panicking in schools and unions have not asked them to stay at home.

Teacher unions have released statements urging the minister to close schools. Manuel also said that they do not expect schools to shut down without a plan.

Author: Omega Fumba 

Date Published: 23 July 2020