Motshekga says department lost more than 1,600 teachers to Covid-19

20 May 2021 - 21:09 By aphiwe deklerk
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has revealed how the Covid-19 pandemic damaged her department.

Addressing parliament during the budget debate for basic education, Motshekga said: “Covid-19 had a very devastating effect on our sector. The analysis we have made... shows that up to February 2021 we lost about 1,678 educators.

“Unfortunately, the sector lost the MEC for education in the Northern Cape, we lost the superintendent-general for education in the Eastern Cape, we lost the president of Natu [National Teachers Union].”

Motshekga attributed all the deaths to Covid-19.

Her department, since the state of national disaster was announced last year, has seen a lot of disruption from Covid-19 regulations.

Schooling had to be stopped until June when the country adjusted down from lockdown level 5 — but that was short-lived after cases of Covid-19 shot up, forcing the government to re-close schools in July.

A number of grades saw rotational attendance of classes to avoid overcrowding. 

Motshekga told parliament that her department has had to endure cuts in its budget from the past financial year, much like many other departments. These were forced by Covid-19 as the national government had to find funds to minimise the affect of the lockdown on the economy.

She told parliament about an urgent need to implement the two years of early childhood development before children get to grade 1. She said the process to move early childhood development from the department of social development to her department was at an advanced stage.

“It is anticipated that the ECD relocation from DSD to DBE will be effected from April 1 2022,” said Motshekga.

She said her department has developed a vision for ECD which recognises the inequalities in provision of ECD in the country.

Motshekga further stated that there will be introduction of compulsory attendance of grade RR by children who are five years old.

The move had been mooted from back in 2019 and the government at the time had envisaged its rollout in four years.