Rethink decision to open schools on Monday, SAHRC urges department
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) does not agree with the government's plan to have grade 7 and 12 pupils back in class on Monday.
The commission says it has done independent monitoring of schools for readiness in all nine provinces and consulted with various stakeholders, including teachers’ unions and school governing bodies.
Spokesperson Gushwell Brooks said while the commission supported the opening of schools as soon as possible in order to give effect to the rights of learners to education, it was important that the necessary minimum conditions were met for the reopening of schools.
“Most observations from our provincial offices highlight the shortage or inadequacy of water and sanitation, as well as personal protective equipment. Some even reported that the necessary training was still outstanding,” said Brooks.
“Other observations made during monitoring in provinces are that the levels of readiness for many rural schools are significantly low. The monitoring continues.
“The commission has received confirmation through its provincial office in the Northern Cape, that the Northern Cape MEC for education has announced that schools in the province will not be ready to reopen by June 1 and that they are looking at learners returning to school on June 8 instead.”
The schools' governing bodies informed the commission that as of Thursday, about 3,500 schools still have no adequate water, he said.
“All these reports give the commission concerns whether - and considering that only three days remain before the date of opening, as well as the amount of work that appears still remaining to be done - the schools will be ready to receive learners with the expected levels of safety by June 1.
“The commission has therefore communicated its concerns by letter to the minister and recommended that she reconsiders the date for reopening the schools.”