Public Servants Association opposes schools reopening‚ disagrees with 5 unions

The Public Servants Association (PSA)‚ which represents teachers and administrative staff at schools‚ is concerned about pupils at poor and rural schools falling behind as better equipped facilities reopen on Monday.

The PSA distanced itself from the “tentative” endorsement by other unions of the resumption of teaching at state schools countrywide for pupils in grades 7 and 12.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union‚ National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA‚ Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie‚ National Teachers Union and Professional Educators’ Union‚ together with school governing body (SGB) associations (Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools‚ National Association of School Governing Bodies‚ Governing Body Foundation and SA National Association for Specialised Education)‚ on Sunday supported the call to reopen schools on Monday “with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not Covid-19 compliant”.

This followed a meeting with authorities and confirmation from basic education minister Angie Motshekga that schools were “95% ready” to reopen.

The PSA‚ however‚ said it “is extremely disappointed that these unions have agreed with the minister of basic education that not all schools can open for Grade 7s and Grade 12s”.

“The PSA continued to receive reports from its provincial offices and members which have over the weekend found that schools‚ specifically those in the rural and poorer communities‚ still do not meet the required safety standards.”

It said there were schools with dilapidated classrooms‚ “some of which have had their ceilings destroyed and the floor is a mixture of cement and ground”.

“The PSA is extremely disturbed by the fact that the department and other unions can agree to leave some schools behind whose learners will be expected to write the same examinations.

“These learners will be left behind when education is the only means that can assist to alleviate poverty.”

The unions and SGB associations said three out of the nine provinces were still experiencing challenges with regard to the delivery of water tanks‚ but cautiously welcomed the progress that had been made.

They said: “We are particularly thankful for the extent of PPEs deliveries‚ the improvement in the number of completed water supply projects and the delivery and improvement of toilet facilities.

“We will closely monitor the promise to complete the outstanding water deliveries‚ toilets and additional classes.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.