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Back to School: South Africa Cannot Afford to Have Children Not Being in School

Feb 15, 2021

Image: Lesufi

Faizel Patel – 15/02/2021

(Twitter: @FaizelPatel143)

The Executive Director of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa says South Africa cannot afford to have children not being in school.

Basil Manuel was speaking to Radio Islam on Monday about the reopening of schools.

Briefing the media on school readiness yesterday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that a thousand-169 educators have succumbed to COVID-19.

The country’s five major teacher unions recently did a survey, which showed that 66% of public school principals have indicated that they are ready for the schools to open.

Manuel says while there are concerns about the safety of learners at schools, he is also  worried about the dropout rate.

“I do worry about the 10% to 15% as mentioned by the DG of learners that didn’t return last year. Now we glibly say 10% without always focusing on the number. So there are many concerns and the longer we have schools closed the greater the chance that you lose some children. They just get accustomed to not being at school and they don’t return.”

Manuel says teachers are also stressed out.

“The psychological health of our teacher core and of course also education workers is not what it should be. The support for it also not what it should be. But, it is what it is, we have to continue with the job. We have to try our bit and we’ve roped in medical aids and we have the department also doing its share to try and address the psychosocial support not only of teachers and education workers but also of children.”

Manuel says while the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people economically, schools will be part of the nutrition programme with every school offering meals to learners adding that schools are also a much safer because it is a controlled environment.



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