South Africa News

Leaked document reveals Schools will open on 6 May

The draft plan, which contains the basic education department logo and the heading ‘Phasing in Approach’, indicates pupils in grades 12 and 7 could return soon.

Although there hasn’t been an official department of basic education announcement on the reopening of schools, a leaked post-lockdown recovery draft plan has revealed that a phased-in resumption of the school year from 6 May, according to pupils’ grades, is on the cards.

News24 has seen the draft plan, which contains the basic education department logo and the heading “Phasing in Approach” and it indicates that pupils in grades 12 and 7 could return on 6 May, followed by grades 11 and 6 on 20 May.

Grades 10 and 5 then follow on 3 June, grades 9 and 4 on the 17 June, and grades 8 and 3 on 1 July.

The document further shows grades 2, 1 and R returning last on 8 and 15 July.

In a written response to journalists’ questions, the education ministry said it was not in a position to elaborate because plans were still being ironed out.

“The schools will return in phases but the details will be announced by the minister of basic education in due course,” it said.

The national representative organization for governing bodies, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), says the document is an unofficial draft plan that has been leaked and still needs to be approved by the minister, Angie Motshekga, the department of health, and the Cabinet.

“It is a plan at this moment and not the plan because everything in that can change if the department of health says no,” Fedsas CEO Paul Colditz told News24.

Colditz said the federation was part of engagements with senior officials from the department and agreed with the phased-in approach.

“The president himself, when he extended the lockdown said that after the lockdown, unlocking the country would be a phased-in process because of the potential of increased infections if you suddenly release all the sectors to operate as they did before lockdown,” he said.

Various teacher unions have also reportedly been involved in the discussions to ensure that the process meets the interests of everyone involved in the system.

Executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), Basil Manuel, said the organisation supported the draft plan but was concerned about the date lapses of the different grades.

“If you look at the draft plan circulating, you will see that the last group returns in July, which is three months from now. And that, for us, is far too long but we [are] willing to hear what the rationale is – but we are not convinced the gap from one group to the next is necessary,” Manuel told News24.

He said it was important that the department and all stakeholders involved apply their minds to discussions about which grades return first.

He added that it did not believe Grade 1s should be the last to return because they were in the foundation phase of learning to read and write.

“The Grade 1s have lost everything they learned in first term. The break has been too long for them. Remember, schooling is not only about book learning and writing [but] it’s also a socialisation issue and so Grade 1s lose socialisation quicker than others. These are all the debates that still need to happen before we have finalisation,” Manuel said.

The executive said while discussions were still under way, the union was of the view that Grade 9s should return earlier because they need to make life choices in terms of subject choices when they reach Grade 10.

“We must apply our minds as to why that group and not that group. We must look at what is the critical phase and the exit phase.”

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Source: The Citizen

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