MPs question Angie Motshekga’s decision to allow all primary school learners to go back to school
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Cape Town - Some political parties in Parliament have questioned Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s decision to allow all primary school learners to return to school in July.
IFP MP Xolani Ngwezi questioned whether it was logical for the minister to give the go-ahead to this despite the country being in the throes of a third wave.
The Department of Health has been reporting a rise in infections in certain provinces, with some already on the third wave.
DA MP Mbulelo Bara said it was a concerned about the third wave was hitting the country and the situation of teachers.
But Motshekga, who was tabling her budget vote in the National Council of Provinces yesterday, said they had met with the education MECs last month to discuss the return of all primary school learners when the third term starts on July 26.
“We want young children to return to school for different reasons, not because teachers are vaccinated. We want them to return to school because this differentiated timetable is causing lots of problems in the sector. We are losing more time and are beginning to observe high levels of juvenile delinquency,” said Motshekga.
She said that when they met with MECs for education in the provinces, they agreed this was the way to go.
They said this would be important to ensure there was continuous learning. They noted that Covid-19 was still prevalent but said they would ensure they adhered to non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“On May 19, the Council of Education for Ministers unanimously supported full attendance of primary school learners at the beginning of the third term,” said Motshekga.
She also said they had started the process to relocate early childhood development (ECD) centres from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE). This is in line with the decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa a few years ago to move ECD centres to the DBE.
“The systematic process for the relocation of ECD from the DSD to the DBE is at an advanced stage. The Office of the Chief State Law Advisers has certified the proclamation to regularise the ECD relocation at the national level, which will be signed by President Ramaphosa.
“The Office of the Chief State Law Advisers has also certified the proclamations to regularise the ECD function shift at the provincial level, which will be signed by the nine honourable premiers. It is anticipated the ECD relocation from the DSD to the DBE will be effected from April 1, 2022. To cater for the two years of ECD prior to Grade 1, section 3 on compulsory attendance of the South African Schools Act, 1996 is in the process of being amended through the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill,” said Motshekga.
“After the Bela Bill has been signed into law by the president, attendance at Grade R classes by children who will be turning 6 years of age will be compulsory. Systematically, this will be followed by the introduction of compulsory attendance in Grade R classes by children who will be turning 5,” she said.