Press statement by BLAC released on 31 May 2020
The BishopLavis Action Community (BLAC) is to picket and protest at all schools in the area in their bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Protesters are to line up in front of the school from seven on wards with their demands.
This community based social movement also differs with both national and provincial government and warns political parties of playing games with the lives of poor working class communities. BLAC rejects the state and provincial strategy of a “herd immunity”.
According to Rodney Zeerberg, BLAC President as well as an unemployed teacher, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exposed the inequalities within the education system. “Our schools are simply not ready. Not now, next week, or any time soon. Schools are death traps and our children as well teachers and support staff, are set up for a disaster with tragic consequences for our entire communities.”
Exponential increases in infections and death rates over a period of days in the Western Cape has them worried. The question of personal protective equipment to all, infrastructural deficiencies, safety and security concerns,the lack of psycho-social facilities as well as access to technology are uppermost issues contained in their memoranda. Principals would be forced to act within seven days.
According to Beverley Fortuin, BLAC Vice President, they have mobilised their community in to street committees focusing on feeding schemes. “Our street committee members have soon realised that the struggle of the working class is interwoven into every facet of life, especially education and health. As such, we are protesting as parents against the educational system intent on destroying the dignity of teachers, learners and ultimately the community.”
Picker protests are set to continue for the remainder of the week. Street committees will monitor this daily.
Following their call last week for a national stay-away in the wake of government’s call for schools to reopen, BLAC now wants communities across South Africa to actively protest and prevent schools from opening up on 01 June 2020.
This community based social movement feels that grade 7 and 12 learners “are being led to the slaughterhouse”. They say that schools are “simply not ready.”According to Rodney Zeeberg, “working class schools across the country face a myriad of issues and COVID-19 is just exposing this inequalities.”
“Already schools in Delft, Valhalla Park, Wynberg and Phillipi have confirmed cases. These schools had to close their gates before they even opened. And this will happen all over the country on a weekly and even daily basis. Teachers and school support workers have tested positive and are endangering their lives”, he says.
BLAC fears that education will suffer as teachers will be required to perform duties outside their field of expertise. Learners will be traumatised as they will be subjected to continuous screening, witnessing fellow students falling ill, or worse, die.
Social distancing in classes averaging 40 or more, is also a pipe dream. As such, BLAC makes a call on street committees, parents, teachers, School Governing Bodies and all progressive organisations across the country to occupy schools by picketing inside the school boundaries with all lockdown protocol observed. Memoranda of demands must be handed over to the various education departments and protests must continue until such time as our demands have been met.
This press statement was released on 31 May 2020. You may republish it, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.