It remains to be seen who is going to win this battle, but the first round went to Motshekga as some kids went to school.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga may try to stand her ground on the reopening of schools, but she can’t stop the united force of education unions that want schools to close.
This was the view of political analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga, who said Motshekga was weak and the governing ANC was even weaker, politically, so could not help the situation. He said the unions, especially the South African Democratic Teachers Unions (Sadtu), had the upper hand in this debate, due to its power over the ANC with the backing of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the federation it was affiliated to.
The unions, Sadtu, National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, the National Teachers Union and the Educators’ Union of South Africa (Eusa), have threatened force to achieve their demand.
Eusa said it would shut schools by force to protect children and educators against the virus. Teachers’ unions have been calling on Motshekga to close schools until after the virus peak, estimated to be in August or September. But she insisted that schools must open. She threatened to take action against perpetrators of violence.
It remains to be seen who is going to win this battle, but the first round went to Motshekga as some kids went to school. Mathekga said Motshekga would never win against the unions.
“If there is anyone who knows the department so well, it is Sadtu. They know exactly what its weaknesses are and … its strengths, they can do anything they want. The minister can’t win against the unions because she is politically weak. On top of that, the ANC is so divided and broke that it’s very easy to play with it and the unions know that – and they will win at the end of the day,” Mathekga said.
A parent, Dan Mofokeng, from Soweto, said he agreed with the unions that schooling must be stopped until after the Covid-19 peak, or the academic year should be cancelled.
“As parents, are concerned about the health of our children, at the same time we want them to get education. But I think that the life of my child is more important than education which she can still get at a later stage. Schools must be closed and everybody returned next year on the same grades – we cannot sacrifice our children for this,” Mofokeng said.
The closure of schools seemed to be supported by some teachers, who said the situation on the ground was getting worse.
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