NATIONAL NEWS - The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has announced that she will meet with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) next Monday, 18 May, to take stock of progress made in preparation for schools to reopen.
This comes after schools had not been supplied with the required personal protection equipment in time for the planned return of principals and school management teams (SMT) to schools on 11 May.
Motshekga said cleaning material and personal protection equipment would be delivered to schools this week. “We had challenges with suppliers of PPEs which resulted in the cancellation of contracts,” she said. Consequently various provinces had to find new suppliers to deliver the material this week.
In a meeting held on Monday 11 May, provinces reported that they were at various stages of readiness and requested more time as they awaited the deliveries of personal protection equipment from the supplier.
“We agreed in our meeting on Monday that one week is needed to finalise outstanding. So on Monday 18 May 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,” said Motshekga.
In the meeting next Monday they will receive a full report which they 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 President announced in his address to the nation last night, 13 May, that consultation will start immediately on a proposal that most of the country be placed on alert Level 3 by end of May, while those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection may remain on Level 4.
Mathanzima Mweli, the director-general of the Department of Basic Education, said that this statement will assist with the implementation of the risk-based differentiated approach in reopening schools.
“We will convene a special meeting of the heads of education departments from all provinces and the Minister will meet with MECs on Monday to discuss the progress made… Nobody has experience in managing a crisis of this magnitude, so we follow expert advice. That is why we need to be extremely careful how we proceed in every step,” Mweli said.
He stressed that saving lives remains the overriding consideration in the three-step basic education sector plan. The other factors are saving the academic year and risk assessment and mitigation as well as monitoring and evaluation.
“The Minister will address a media briefing after receiving full reports from all provinces on the readiness to open schools. We appeal for patience as we work to find the best way forward under the circumstances,” he said.
The exact time of this media briefing will be confirmed in due course.
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