Confusion over back-to-school dates — education DG says one thing, deputy minister gives different date

29 April 2020 - 15:10
By Andisiwe Makinana
The post-lockdown back to school date is yet to be finalised.
Image: 123RF/olegdudko The post-lockdown back to school date is yet to be finalised.

The department of basic education appeared to backtrack on Wednesday from the announcement that schools would partially reopen for certain pupils next week.

“We can't say we are presenting a cast-in-stone plan. Yesterday, after presenting to the social cluster, they indicated that the date of May 6 is not realistic and we need to change it.

“In the presentation that I have now, that date is changed,” said basic education deputy minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule on Wednesday.

This came just more than an hour after the department's director-general Mathanzima Mweli told MPs that schools would partially reopen on May 6 for Grade 12 and Grade 7 pupils.

It was also after MPs raised concerns about the plan to reopen schools next week, questioning the readiness of the department, with one going as far as saying the department was risking lives to save the school year.

Mhaule said school principals and chairpersons of school governing bodies would reopen next week to look at all the things that would be needed when teachers return later.

Explaining basic education minister Angie Motshekga's absence from the virtual meeting, Mhaule said Motshekga was attending a cabinet meeting to present the department's plan to her cabinet colleagues.

“When this plan is approved, then we are going to school; on the 18th our children are going to school,” she said without elaborating on the new date.