| SOUTH AFRICA

Confusion over school resumption

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Conflicting messages sent to teachers, parents and learners

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Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Photo from government website

Conflicting messages on whether or not school will reopen for learners on Monday has left teachers, parents and learners confused.

Here is a timeline of events:

  • In the past week, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga gazetted that grade 7 and 12 learners are to return to school on Monday, 1 June 2020.
  • On 31 May, the Sunday Times reported that the partial reopening of schools was on hold after talks between “Motshekga, MECs, teacher unions and governing body associations” on Saturday night.
  • Motshekga was due to address the media on Sunday at 6pm.
  • At 17:22 on Sunday, 31 May, a message was sent to the government-administered media list that Motshekga’s press conference was postponed to 11am on Monday, leaving teachers, parents and learners in the dark as to what to do on Monday.
  • At 19:03 on Sunday, a message was sent to the government media list on behalf of the national Department of Basic Education. In over 400 words it said that all learners (not just grades 7 and 12) must return on 8 June.
  • Shortly thereafter we received a statement published by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) stating that, as gazetted, school for grades 7 and 12 resumes on Monday, 1 June. It’s not entirely clear but our current understanding is that the WCED statement came out after the national department’s one.
  • Meanwhile a statement by the Limpopo education department was published saying that learners must return on 8 June.
  • Then at 19:23 on Sunday, the national department deleted its earlier statement and replaced it with a new one saying almost the same thing i.e. that learners must return on 8 June, except that it corrected the “all learners” error, clarifying that the instruction to return applies only to grades 7 and 12.

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