Motshekga's announcement on schools reopening cancelled

14 May 2020 - 11:28
By Yoliswa Sobuwa
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Image: GCIS Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

The much-anticipated briefing by the the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga on state of readiness for reopening of schools will no longer take place today. 

On Monday when Motshekga had a virtual meeting with education unions and different MECs, the department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the minister would brief the media on Thursday. 

When asked if the meeting was postponed Mhlanga said: "It is not postponed because we never sent the invitation in the first place."

Motshekga will convene a special meeting of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to consider progress made towards the reopening of schools. According to the department the purpose of the meeting will be to consider the work done by provinces this week including taking deliveries of the Covid-19 essentials required as preconditions for the reopening of schools.

 In a meeting held on Monday provinces reported that they were at various stages of readiness and they requested more time as they waited for deliveries of personal protection equipment from the supplier.

Motshekga said they agreed on their meeting on Monday that one week was needed to finalise outstanding. "So on Monday next week we will reconvene to consider progress made and then report to the public on the state of readiness.

A lot of work has happened and we are happy with the progress reported in the last meeting but we need confirmation of deliveries that provinces were waiting for,” Motshekga said. 

Motshekga said the delays in the deliverables were attributed to challenges with the supplier of PPEs which resulted in the cancellation of contracts. Various provinces had to find new suppliers to deliver the materials this week.

“In the meeting on Monday we will receive a full report which we can then share with the public. We will also use the meeting to table President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address which is also important for our planning purposes,” she said. 

The department director -general, Mathanzima Mweli, said the implementation of the basic education sector risk-based differentiated approach in reopening schools would be assisted by the President’s address. 

“We will convene a special meeting of the heads of education departments from all provinces and the minister will meet with MECs on Monday go discuss the progress made. "Thereafter we will announce to public. Nobody has experience in managing a crisis of this magnitude so we follow expert advice that why we need to be extremely careful how we proceed in every step,” he said.

Mweli said the basic education sector plan was based on three factors, saving lives remaining the overriding consideration. Saving the academic year is crucial and risk assessment and mitigation as well as monitoring and evaluation are important safeguards of the plan, he said.

Mweli said the minister will only address the media after receiving full reports from all provinces on the readiness to open schools.