COSATU statement on the decision to postpone the reopening of schools.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the decision by the Department of Basic Education to postpone the opening of schools by two weeks. This is a correct decision that will give all stakeholders an opportunity to collectively engage and develop protocols and a solid plan to plan for the new schooling year.

 Schools are part of society and therefore cannot be isolated from the overall government strategy of reducing the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Some rural and township schools are poorly equipped, and some students use the congested public transport system, and this means that the reopening of schools can contribute to spreading this deadly virus.

 Many teachers have lost their lives to COVID-19 over the last two months and government needs to offer the deserving students and teachers psychological support. Creating a conducive, safe and healthy environment for teaching and learning is critical because schooling is not just about attendance.

 We urge government to broadly engage all education stakeholders to prepare a flexible plan that is suitable for all eventualities because this pandemic is unpredictable. Without a flexible and comprehensive plan that has the full support of stakeholders, we will fail to save the academic year. The education sector needs to be adaptable and work to close the gaps and the inequalities that make it difficult to have virtual learning across the country.

 COSATU also supports the call for government to be more assertive in regulating the so-called independent schools. We cannot afford to introduce a means test when it comes to applying the rules and the laws. What applies to the poor people should also apply to the well off. If we are under lockdown regulated by the laws of the country, everybody should be subjected to the same rules.

 We take this opportunity to urge government to fast track the roll out of the covid-19 vaccine to teachers as well as students. This is the only way to ensure that the academic year proceeds without any more disruptions.

 Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911

Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 6794