'It was a waste of time' - Teacher unions 'dumbstruck' at meeting on school closures

20 July 2020 - 14:08 By Prega Govender
Teacher unions said they had given Angie Motshekga their three-page document on school closures on Saturday and were surprised when she called for the document on Sunday.
Teacher unions said they had given Angie Motshekga their three-page document on school closures on Saturday and were surprised when she called for the document on Sunday.
Image: Cebisile Mbonani

The country’s five teacher unions were flabbergasted on Sunday night when deputy basic education minister Reginah Mhaule and a task team comprising five education MECs asked them for proposals on why schools should be closed.

The unions had given basic education minister Angie Motshekga their three-page document on Saturday.

Mhaule informed the unions of the meeting at 8.45 on Sunday night.

The education MECs making up the task team included Kwazi Mshengu from KwaZulu-Natal, Panyaza Lesufi (Gauteng), Debbie Schafer (Western Cape), Wendy Matsemela (North West) and Polly Boshielo (Limpopo).

Ben Machipi, general secretary of the Professional Educators' Union (PEU), said: “What shocked us is that the task team introduced by the deputy minister were asking for the consolidated proposals that we gave the minister on Saturday.

"The minister gave them an instruction to come and ask for something she has in her hands.”

He said they were told the task team would examine consolidated proposals by the unions and then make recommendations to Motshekga, which she would table before the cabinet.

“The meeting was a waste of time,” Machipi said.

In their proposals to Motshekga, the unions said schools must be closed immediately and only reopen at the end of next month, once Covid-19 infections had peaked.

They proposed that matric pupils return on August 17 and that different modes of teaching be used to help them while they are at home should be prioritised.

Other grades should return at the end of August, subject to a review based on the situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

Motshekga met the unions last Friday after meeting governing body associations earlier last week.

According to Machipi, the task team was expected to meet them again later on Monday.


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