It's still too early to open schools, says ANC's Jessie Duarte

Jessie Duarte delivered an online lecture on "people's power" on Wednesday at the invitation of the ANC Youth League. She warned against schools reopening too soon.
Jessie Duarte delivered an online lecture on "people's power" on Wednesday at the invitation of the ANC Youth League. She warned against schools reopening too soon.
Image: Daylin Paul

The ANC is opposed to a rushed reopening of schools, which have been closed since the start of the lockdown.

This is according to the party's deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, who was responding to a question during her online political lecture on “people's power” on Wednesday, held at the invitation of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

This follows an announcement by the department of basic education that grade 7 and 12  pupils may be going back to school as early as May 6.

However, about an hour after presenting this date in parliament, officials backtracked on the date, which has been opposed by teachers' unions Sadtu and SAOU, among others.

Duarte warned that reopening schools at this point could be catastrophic, given the difficulty of social distancing at many schools. More thinking and strategising was needed before the government could reopen schools, she said.

Although it is critical to ensure that the academic year is saved, it is equally logical to do so in a well-thought manner, she said.

She said the ANC understood the challenges that the lockdown presented to rural school pupils who did not have internet for the virtual classes conducted online.

Saving lives was more important than rushing to reopen schools, said Duarte.

“As the ANC we will not oppose the government reopening the schools, but we will not like it to be immediately,” she said. “We think there should be a little bit more time before we make that hard decision.

“It is tough on children because not every child has internet access and there is anxiety.

“There are some issues that must be resolved because schools can be reopened properly.”


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