Ms Thandi Nontenja

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) rejects the reopening of schools, on 1 June 2020 for Grade 7 and 12 learners, as announced yesterday by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and so approved by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

The fact that the Minister herself had said that she cannot assure parents that there is no danger of infection, is proof that her department does not have a proper plan in place. We are concerned about the safety of both teachers and learners, especially in disadvantaged schools across South Africa. This move is a gamble with our children’s lives. The Minister also confirmed that a number of schools were either burnt or vandalised over the past two months, which makes the situation even worse.

The UDEMWO calls on the Department of Basic Education and the NCCC to review this decision as the confirmed cases of Covid-19 are rapidly increasing on a daily basis. We realise the importance of education, but we cannot put the lives of future South African leaders in danger by taking them back to classrooms at this point in time.

We have seen what happened in France where, within a week of reopening schools, they have reported 70 new Coronavirus cases. In South Africa, private schools could fairly safely reopen simply because they have fewer learners per class, but what about our overcrowded public schools where social distancing is not possible.

Minister Motshekga must act like a parent in this matter.

Issued by:

Ms Thandi Nontenja

UDEMWO Secretary General