Staff Reporter – The Zimbabwe Daily

Pretoria, South Africa – Yesterday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of  public schools for four weeks.

Prior to the announcement, all schools were allowed to reopen on the eight of June through a gradual phasing in of grades but due to public outcry as a result of  COVID-19 which has infected 408 052 with 6 093 succumbing to it, the President saw it befitting to temporarily close all public schools.

“The health and wellbeing of learners and educators is critical. The Ministry of Basic Education met with more than 60 stakeholders although it was difficult to find a consensus we have decided that all public schools should close for four weeks from the 24th of July to the 27th of August.

Grade 7 and 12 learners will close on the 27th of this month. Grade 12 learners will have a one week break and return back on the third of August and grade 7 learners will have a two week break and come back on the 10th of August.

The academic year will also be extended beyond 2020. We want to make sure schools don’t become areas of transmission,” said the President.

Although many parents were calling for government to follow in the footsteps of countries like Kenya and Nigeria which have already suspended their 2020 academic year, contentions have now risen on why only public schools should be temporarily closed whilst the private schools remain open.

However, Hubert Mweli, Director-General of the Department of Basic Education said there wasn’t anything sinister about the President’s announcement.

“There are 23 400 public schools and 1 800 private schools. The issue of inequality has always been there and it won’t be solved in a week or two.

Moreso, the academic calendar of private schools is different from public schools and some of the private schools had already gone on a two week break prior to the President’s announcement.

Another issue, the private schools are unable to pay salaries if they remain closed which is a different setup with public schools.

We also realised that schools cannot be entirely closed as they will be prone to vandalism plus the feeding scheme has to continue,” said the Director-General.

However, National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)’s  Executive Director, Basil Manuel and the General Secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB), Matakanye Matakanya said they will be seeking further clarity from the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.