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POLL | It's back to school on Monday - is your child ready?

12 February 2021 - 12:00 By cebelihle bhengu
Schools are expected to reopen on February 15. Stock photo.
Schools are expected to reopen on February 15. Stock photo.

The basic education department says it's all systems go for the reopening of schools on Monday.

The date was pushed back from January 27 to February 15 due to the impact of the Covid-19 second wave.

“We look forward to welcoming back all our learners and the resumption of the academic year next Monday. We trust that all parents are ready, learners have school uniforms and stationery,” said basic education deputy minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule on Thursday.

The department assured parents that the safety of pupils, teachers and staff was its main priority.

The first term will run until April 23 and the 2021 academic year will end on December 15, according to the amended school calendar.

Addressing SA on the state of the nation on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the department would focus its efforts on regaining lost time.

He said the government would also focus on improving readiness for early childhood development centres (ECDs).

“Of the many hardships our people had to experience last year, schooling disruption placed a huge burden on learners, teachers and families. Despite this, they persevered. It is our priority for this year to regain lost time and improve educational outcomes, from the early years through to high school and post-school education and training,” said Ramaphosa.

Last week, the DA questioned whether schools were ready, saying some schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were not ready to reopen.

DA spokesperson on basic education Baxolile Nodada lamented a lack of sanitation in some schools, which he said would put the lives of pupils at risk.

“Many schools do not have proper or any access to clean water and sanitation. That this should still be a concern in 2021 is simply shocking,” he said.

“The world is suffering at the hands of a pandemic, the main defence against which is cleanliness. Pupils and personnel do not have access to a basic human right that is their first line of defence against Covid-19. This is beyond shameful.”

Another concern, he said, was that 120,000 pupils did not have access to government-funded scholar transport, forcing pupils to walk long distances and in some cases, drop out.

Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the criticism from the DA was nothing new. “There is no crisis,” he said.