We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

800 support staff needed urgently to keep Eastern Cape schools sanitised

Schools without toilets will not be reopened in June, says education department

25 May 2020 - 16:14 By Ziyanda Zweni
Hundreds of recruits will be contracted as support staff for three months to help sanitise pupils and ensure physical distancing at Eastern Cape schools.
Hundreds of recruits will be contracted as support staff for three months to help sanitise pupils and ensure physical distancing at Eastern Cape schools.
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/123rf.com

The Eastern Cape education department is scrambling to hire 800 unemployed people to help in the first phase of schools reopening next week.

These recruits, employed as support staff, will be contracted for three months to help sanitise pupils and also make sure physical distancing rules are adhered to.  

A circular by the department states a school with more than 1,000 pupils may hire up to four people, who will be paid a stipend of R2,500 a month.

Schools will reopen on June 1 for grades 7 and 12 nationally, education minister Angie Motshekga said last week.

Principals, school management teams, teachers and non-teaching staff will be at work on Monday to continue preparations to ensure readiness for the return of pupils.

However, department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said schools without ablution facilities will not be opened. “Instead, pupils at those school will be taken to other schools,” he said, adding that the department had covered its bases in ensuring readiness to open schools.

Pulumani said the move to recruit the helpers was to ensure adequate support in schools.

“We said let’s recruit unemployed people to assist with [the] sanitising station, as well as making sure the school is clean and that pupils adhere to physical distancing rules. Recruitment will take place this week.”

The job will be a fixed contract of three months. Deployment will be based on the number of pupils at a school, he said.

“There is no emphasis on qualifications, but people must be able to read and write.

“We can’t expect teachers to sanitise pupils and do that process of screening. Essentially, children in school need monitoring and they [the recruits] will make sure that within the school walls, physical distancing is adhered to.”

The workers will be screened every day, as will teachers.

“The recruitment will be done by principals and the SGB. Money to pay these workers will be deposited into school accounts,” he said.

Pulumani said the necessary protective clothing had been delivered to schools, but not all had received it yet.

“We expect to finish deliveries on Tuesday. PPE is a minimum requirement. By the time children go back to school, PPE will be delivered. The PPE we are providing is for everyone in school. Pupils will receive two masks, a sanitiser and hand soap.”

Many schools in the rural Eastern Cape have no running water and sanitation. DispatchLIVE has reported several times about schools such as Mcheni Primary School in Tsolo, where the only source of water for children is from a river they share with animals and pupils have to relieve themselves in the open or in dangerous pit latrines.

Pulumani said they were working with the department of water and sanitation to provide water tanks in schools with water issues.

“That process should be finished by Friday. We know the province has issues of schools with no toilets. We have asked our moderators to collect lists of schools without toilets. Schools with inadequate toilet facilities will not be opened. Pupils will be taken to other schools.”