‘Suspend June school holidays’

The MEC for education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, says his department is in talks with labour unions to cancel June holidays in the province.

This will allow schools to catch up on work missed since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of schools to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Lesufi was speaking on Wednesday at a briefing by the Gauteng government on the province’s plans, following Ramaphosa’s 21-day lockdown announcement on Monday.

Schools were supposed to open on April 14, but with the lockdown only ending on April 16, they will remain closed.

On Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said there is not yet a date for when schools will reopen. She said the new date will depend on when the lockdown is lifted.

Lesufi said the school closures had disrupted the academic programme and that the provincial department has initiated negotiations with labour unions and other
stakeholders in the education sector to scrap the June holidays in the province.

“When we come [back], we want to run until the end. There are no breaks because they have already had a break … Some of the programmes we
have are dependent on access to data or technology, and the majority of people do not have access to that.”

Provincial departments of education have partnered with radio stations to broadcast lessons, and they have also created content for online learning for learners to
use while it is not yet clear when schools will reopen.

However, Motshekga said the department will be working on a recovery plan that will accommodate the days and hours lost since schools have been closed.

“Our recovery plan is informed by what we can do ourselves with learners and that is why we are counting dates, we are counting hours to say ‘we have lost 10 days and 10 days means the following’…

“We are looking at extra days, extra hours in schools and not in communities,” said Motshekga, adding that the online learning and radio broadcasts are extras that will assist children who can have access to the resources.

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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