Schools are opening. Now let’s end the state of disaster.

The DA welcomes the announcement that children will be allowed to go back to school full time. However, we will only withdraw our court action once the new regulations have been officially promulgated.

We note that this announcement comes six months late for primary schools, as the government’s own medical advisory council (MAC) advised in July last year already that it is safe for primary school children to attend school on a full-time basis.

Poor schoolchildren have lost 50-70% of their learning time, much of this unnecessarily.

The regulations necessitating rotational schooling in poor schools have severely impacted curriculum coverage, learner drop-outs, learner pregnancies, learning outcomes, and the wellbeing of both poor school children and their parents. About 90% of all school children have been affected.

The DA’s recommendations to the Department of Basic Education:

  • Immediately provide the much-needed support to schools to enable their full reopening.
  • Work with educational experts to urgently develop and implement a plan to recover the immense learning losses of the past two years. The department must clearly communicate on its plans to address lost learning time.
  • Trace learners who have dropped out of school since the start of the pandemic and make every effort to get them back into school.
  • Address the issue of bad school maintenance and infrastructure by ensuring the unspent R1 billion allocated towards infrastructure is adequately spent. Schools need to be conducive to teaching and learning, therefore we need to completely eradicate the existing mud and asbestos schools as well as remove the 2111 pit toilets that still exist and replace them with proper sanitary equipment.
  • Allow school sporting and extramural activities to resume fully as this will encourage learners to return to school and help relieve the mental stress they have experienced during the pandemic.

The DA will conduct oversights to ensure that promises made by the department such as providing for mobile classrooms in the provinces are adhered to.

We will continue to monitor curriculum coverage plans to ensure schools catch up on the 50-70% learning time lost as highlighted by the NIDS-CRAMS study.

Finally, we call on government to end the state of disaster. The pandemic has become endemic and requires a more normalised response. The real disasters now are unemployment and major learning losses. These should be the focus.