Minister of Education Angie Motshekga decided to re-open the schools during a global pandemic. The re-opening of schools has brought mixed emotions from parents, learners and teachers. While the importance of education cannot be overlooked, schools need to re-open when it is safe and case are significantly reduced. Since the opening of schools, 968 schools have closed due to positive cases identified in schools. As of 5 July 2020, 11 teachers and 3 learners have died from COVID-19; with 2740 teachers and 1260 learners being infected.
On 4 July 2020, activists from different organisations and community members who are parents and guardians in the Gauteng region came together in a physically distanced meeting at House of Movements in Johanesburg, to voice collective concern over the prioritising of the curriculum over the lives of their children. They are mindful that the academic year is already lost and the catch up plan is disrupted by the constant closure of schools due to COVID-19.
They then decided to form the Gauteng Concerned Parents Forum.
The aim of this Forum is to create different campaigns around the boycotting of schools until the COVID-19 curve has flattened. One of the actions parents proposed was starting a Forum that demands the government must close ALL schools, provide meals to all children in school and their families at home, provide learning materials and data for children to continuing learning at home and fix broken infrastructure in schools.
The Gauteng Concerned Parents Forum also decided to start a petition to gain support for the closing of all schools, and have started mobilising other parents on a door-to-door basis to sign the petition and broaden the call for government to close all schools until the peak of the coronavirus pandemic has passed. An online petition is also being organised so that more people can be reached.
On 23 July President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that as of 27 July, public schools would “take a break for four weeks”, but went on to say that matrics will return on 3 August, after only one week, and Grade 7s will return on 10 August, after only two weeks. It is not clear when they want the rest of the grades to come back. This clearly does not resolve the issue and it shows that government is allowing learners in private schools to continue with learning while those from public schools are being left behind.
The Gauteng Concerned Parents Forum will continue mobilising using the petition and other methods to reach many parents, learners and communities, so that they can take up the call for all schools to close with immediate effect. Parents need to stand together and take a stand now!
This article was submitted on 24 July 2020. You may republish this article, 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.