Vaccinate our teachers; save our kids’ education

Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

The DA welcomes the announcement by the Department of Basic Education that learners from Grades R to 7 will return to normal schooling and calls on the Departments of Basic Education and Health to now ensure that all teachers are vaccinated as a matter of urgency.

On Friday, the Minster of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, gazetted regulations that primary school learners “must return to the daily attendance and traditional timetabling model from 26 July 2021, provided that the risk adjusted differentiated strategy is implemented”.

We believe that it is entirely feasible for schools, particularly primary schools, to become fully functional from the beginning of July, a full month from now, given the crisis of children losing months of schooling they will in all likelihood never be able to regain. Why wait till the end of July?

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March last year, learners have lost months of schooling, with the impact being especially felt by children from rural and poorer communities. Already there are serious concerns regarding the completion of the curriculum, which is a problem in many schools, even without disruptions. Given the time lost to Covid closures, the problem will be that much greater, and many schools have no hope at all of completing the curriculum.

It is therefore high time that our children’s education return to normal urgently, and this will be significantly accelerated by the rapid vaccination of our teachers. As experience has shown, the risk to primary school children returning to school is minimal, unless they have serious co-morbidities, in which case medical advice should be followed.

The Department of Basic Education also need to ensure that all Covid-19 safety protocols are strictly adhered to regarding water and sanitation at schools and hostels, where relevant, and that the crucial National School Nutrition Programme is implemented once more.

This disruption of basic education’s consequences will have far-reaching consequences for millions of children, long after the pandemic has ended, and the Department must do everything necessary to ensure children are getting the full access they require to education.

The urgent vaccination of all teachers along other frontline workers should be a top priority for both the Departments of Basic Education and Health.

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