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Education department mulling pupils’ return to classes full-time

Mounting cost of school vandalism in Gauteng

23 April 2021 - 15:18 By orrin singh
Pupils could return to school on a full-time basis next term. File photo.
Pupils could return to school on a full-time basis next term. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The department of education is locked in a meeting to discuss the return of pupils to school on a full-time basis. 

A source within the department, not authorised to speak to the media, told TimesLIVE the meeting is under way with the consensus being that pupils will return full-time in the second term. 

“When the president announced local government elections will go ahead, it seems as if he going to start unlocking things. It will be unfair to limit education when political rallies are allowed,” said the source.

It is unclear whether the talks are based only on the return of all primary school pupils or high school pupils as well. 

A gazette released by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has updated lockdown regulations for schools, allowing sports and extramural activities to recommence. 

The gazette published on Friday will allow sport and extramural activities without any spectators. 

The following activities are permitted and may resume without spectators and subject to compliance with hygiene and safety measures to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19, and subject to compliance with social distancing measures pertaining to gatherings:

  • all school sport matches, including contact and non-contact sport;
  • physical education;
  • extra-curricular activities; and
  • interschool, district, provincial and national school sport tournaments.

The gazette increased the number of people allowed to attend such events to a maximum of 250 people for indoor venues and a maximum of 500 people for outdoor venues. 

These numbers include participants, referees, adjudicators, technical officials, volunteers, medical team, media or broadcasting team and stadium workers.

“If the venue is too small to hold 250 persons indoors or 500 persons outdoors, observing a distance of at least 1.5m from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.”

On Friday Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi said he supported the minister’s decision to bring back all primary school pupils next term. 

“The successful conclusion of term 1 of the 2021 academic year has emboldened our resolve to deliver quality education to all pupils in our province, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. We support the initiative by the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, to consider bringing back all primary school pupils in term 2 as we strongly believe the current rotational system is disadvantaging pupils,” Lesufi said.  

Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga could not be reached for comment.

Gauteng's education department on Friday disclosed that schools are still being targeted by vandals and thieves.

“Despite the strides made in the delivery of school infrastructure, our challenge continues to be criminal elements. During the 2021 academic year, vandalism, break-ins and arson were reported at 381 schools in the province,” said Lesufi.

Of these, 37% have been affected more than once since the beginning of the national lockdown regulations.

The current cost of rehabilitative work in these schools stands at R211m, said Lesufi.



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