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Partial reopening of schools welcomed

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) welcomes the phased-in approach on the reopening of schools. The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced on Thursday that Grade 7 and 12 learners will return to school on the 1st of June. The prolonged closure of schools is a risk to the children’s education and wellbeing, especially for the most vulnerable children, who rely on school not only for their education, but also nutritious meals. 
We call on the Minister to ensure that all the measures that she announced, regarding the protection of children, teachers and supporting staff from COVID-19, are in place before any learning can take place. These include the availability of clean water, masks and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 
While we encourage online learning during this period, the reality is that most of the vulnerable children do not have the necessary resources (i.e. access to internet, computers and other smart devices). This particularly affect children in the rural areas and townships. 
“I personally feel disadvantaged, online learning is very difficult and it’s ineffective. We are unable to receive information, as we have limited resources,” says 17-year-old Aphiwe Ngwenya, from Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal. 
Basetsana Lebello, a 16-year-old from Seshego, Limpopo adds that “online learning requires data and we as learners come from different backgrounds, some of our parents are street vendors and some are unemployed. Also, if I cannot understand when studying alone, what will happen to me, what will happen to my studies?” 
“We urge the teacher unions and the Department of Basic Education to reach a reasonable agreement to ensure that learning continues in our classrooms. The Department must also ensure that learning does not stop for those learners who will be remaining at home. They must be provided with the necessary resources to continue with their studies,” says Litlhare Rabele, SCSA’s Advocacy Manager. 
We also urge parents to declare any underlying health conditions of their children, as per the requirement of the Department. Failure to do so might result in the loss of life. 
For more information or to set up interviews contact: Sibusiso Khasa on 073 449 6871 or [email protected]   
About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.