The South African Human Rights Commission (Sahrc) has raised concerns, saying it was shocked and saddened by reports that the recent riots in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and Gauteng (GP) resulted in the looting and burning of over 30 schools.
The commission said in a statement on Tuesday that this will lead to further learning losses and school dropouts.
It said that incidences of burning schools have been reported in Amajuba, Ugu and Pinetown districts, along with education district offices in the two provinces being torched.
“With schools set to reopen next week, on 26 July 2021, the Commission is concerned that the aftermath of the civil unrest, along with the effects of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, will lead to further learning losses and school drop outs (sic),” reads the statement.
It said that recent statistics by the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) Wave 5 survey, reveal that 500,000 children are estimated to have dropped out of school during the pandemic.
“This comprehensive, nationally representative survey indicates that drop outs have tripled from 230,000 pre-pandemic to approximately 750,000 in May 2021.”
The commission said that it was worried about the delays in the reopening of schools. It said that this will also compromise the National Schools Nutrition Programme.
“Evidence suggests that only a limited number of learners who receive a meal at school, are able to do so whilst schools are closed,” the commission said.
It has since made calls for the communities in affected areas to ensure that learning continues as soon as possible.
“Learning materials and food must continue to reach all learners, while schools develop comprehensive catch-up plans that ensure that no child is left behind. Education is a crucial empowerment right, and our country’s future accordingly hangs in the balance,” the commission said.