Let me say upfront that this is a 1st world problem for parents with choices.  Choices in these difficult times are very limited but more so, for those that don’t have much to choose from.  Some kids have been without any education or learning for the past 9 weeks. Nothing at all. No online lessons, no access to the internet, no Zoom calls and no Google classroom. The Minister of Education has postponed the opening of PUBLIC schools to the 8th June for grade 7 and 12 learners. That is, for schools that have received their safety and sanitisation equipment and are ready to go. 

Back to School: The great divide 

If we’re honest about it, there are various ‘levels’ of schooling in South Africa

  • private schools,
  • formerly ‘model-C’ government schools 
  • completely public or government schools

Even at public school level, resources available to these schools vary depending on the community they’re based in. There is a vast difference in private and public schools and unfortunately, it is the children of those whose choices are limited that suffer the most.

So should there be a blanket rule for all schools?

Given the immense differences in schools and resources, why is the Minister not treating them differently? If private schools have all the protocols, safety measures and equipment necessary to get going, then perhaps they should be allowed to go back to school.

If ‘model-C’ schools or partly government run schools have an SGB that can prepare their schools adequately and up to the standard required, then should they not get going too?

Government would then be able to focus solely on the purely public schools, some of which do not even have proper classrooms, proper toilets or access to water let alone sanitisers and thermometers.  This then could be the time to rectify all of those problems or at the very least, get started on pulling impoverished schools and communities upwards.  

This South African rural school, Nyanga High School in Engcobo collected money to by PPE without waiting for the government and opened on June 1

9 weeks. That’s how much time has gone by and yet schools are not prepared for going back-to-school

The disparity grows each day that a child is not being educated. Each day that a child could have been at school, being cared for, educated and in some cases, even receiving a nutritious meal. Well-resourced schools have been continuing with online learning.  The question at this point isn’t just about the possibility of contracting the virus. It’s more about what can be done efficiently to ensure that schools can go back, that resources are channelled to schools that desperately need it so that they can also go back. Clear instructions, regulations, training of staff and educating kids and parents will benefit the community at large and possibly help to stop the spread of the virus.

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