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By News24 Wire

Wire Service


Opening of schools: Motshekga awaits Cabinet approval for ‘consensus position’

According to Christians, education experts and scientists said children's susceptibility to Covid-19 is low.


A “consensus position” on whether schools should open or close as Covid-19 infections continue to rise will be provided as soon as Cabinet approves, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says.

She presented her department’s adjusted budget to the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

“There are divergent views on whether schools should remain open or closed,” she said, adding that these divergent views are also among parents.

She said they appreciate the input from all sectors.

“After solid consultations the past week, after Cabinet approval, we will be able to indicate what should happen in the sector in the face of ongoing infections in the country.

“There have also been loud voices that have been saying that we should close schools,” she said.

She said they are listening to everybody.

Approval

“We will definitely come with a consensus position as soon as Cabinet has given approval.”

DA MP Delmaine Christians said it is to the benefit of the country’s children that schools remain open and are adequately provided for. She said the benefits of opening the schools exceed the negatives.

According to Christians, education experts and scientists said children’s susceptibility to Covid-19 is low, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) also supports opening schools.

She said closed schools will be most disastrous in poor communities, which are less likely to have internet connectivity, and where children are more like to experience abuse, malnutrition and poor mental health.

“The longer our children are deprived of education, the poorer our nation will become,” Christians said.

EFF MP Seneanye Lehihi said: “We stand here today as the EFF to demand that all schools remain closed.”

Storm

She said schools were closed when there were a few cases – now, as the country is told to brace for the storm, with the peak expected in August or September, schools are opened.

“We should not be afraid to call it what it is. It is the premeditated killing of our children,” Lehihi said.

Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi said they will continue to take advice from experts on the matter.

IFP MP Simo Mfayela said his party has from the start warned against the opening of the schools – because schools, particularly in rural areas, are not prepared for it.

Lesufi was one of four education MECs who spoke on behalf of the ANC.

A common thread in ANC speeches was that the pandemic had laid bare inequalities in South African society.

“It is unfortunate that Covid-19 is now becoming a new apartheid in terms of access, exclusivity and equality,” Lesufi said.

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