Mmusi Maimane slams 'senseless' reopening of schools as infections accelerate

Mmusi Maimane says his greatest pain is that the government seems to have forgotten the cries of the poor.
Mmusi Maimane says his greatest pain is that the government seems to have forgotten the cries of the poor.
Image: Twitter/Mmusi Maimane

One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has again lambasted the government's plan to reopen schools for some grades during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, grade R, 6 and 11 pupils joined grade 7 and 12 pupils as the second phase of the schooling system was given the green light by the department of basic education.

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said at the weekend that provinces that are not ready to receive grade R pupils have until the end of the month to provide strategic and realisable plans. She said all grade R and pre-grade R learners who have already returned to school must continue going to school.

“Schools that meet the health, safety and social distancing protocols can reopen for their grade R and pre-grade R learners,” she said. “We will continue to work with the national associations responsible for pupils with special needs to streamline the return of these pupils to school.”

In the past few weeks, the plan to reopen schools received criticism after reports that more teachers and pupils were being infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of June.

So far 2,740 teachers of the total of about 440,000 teachers in SA have been infected by the virus. During the same period, 1,260 pupils were infected.

Maimane said schools must be closed to get through the Covid-19 storm.

“We are putting tremendous stress on our pupils by asking them to prepare for exams in the most stressful and dangerous environment. We are led by a department that changes its decisions. Our teachers are worried,” he said.

Maimane said wealthy schools were most likely more prepared to receive pupils than poorer schools. He argued that his great concern was the poorer schools that lacked basic infrastructure.

“My greatest pain in all of this is that today we now have a government that seems to have forgotten the cries of the poor. Many wealthy schools are ready, they have all the infrastructure.

“This is not the discussion. The discussion is about the poor  children. I warn in this time, when the cries of the poor in our nation are ignored, our nation is doomed,” he said.

Maimane called on government to reconsider its “senseless” plan to reopen schools as Covid-19 infections rapidly increase.

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