The Economic Freedom Fighters have become the latest to publicly decry the proposal that children should return to school on 6 May once level 4 of the lockdown comes into effect.
The party even went as far as labelling the proposal “reckless and homicidal.”
This is in reference to a draft amended school calendar which was shared in a presentation led by Basic Education Director-General Hubert Mweli during a joint meeting between the portfolio committee on basic education and the select committee on education and technology, sports, arts and culture on Wednesday.
The draft calendar suggested teachers would be back at work by 4 May, with pupils back on 6 May. Grades would be phased in, starting with grades 7 and 12.
According to the EFF, “it is a plan that will send school children, teachers and workers to early graves and compromise the future of this country indefinitely”.
The party then recited the current infection statistics before recalling the advice of infectious disease specialist Dr Salim Abdool-Karim.
“The advice of this medical expert is being undermined in the interests of profit and senseless calls for an easing of the lockdown,” exclaimed the party.
The EFF went on to label the easing of the lockdown as a “result of the government’s spineless concession to capital and big business”, before painting a grim picture of the outcome that they believe these decisions will result in.
“Logic follows that if the economy is opened, the transport industry must be operational, manufacturing must be opened, staffing of centres that provide essential services must be increased and the populace will participate in large scale interaction.
“Workers are at the heart of the economy. These workers are mothers, fathers, sister and brothers who will all come from homes that have children. All of these workers, as a result of exposure, will bring the virus into their homes and infect their children, their children will then go to school and infect each other.”
They summed it up as a “state-engineered massacre” that is not based on decisions informed by science and the appreciation for human life.
The party concluded by highlighting the poor conditions of some South African schools and called on the portfolio committees and education department to reconsider the suggestion.
The EFF further called for a review of government’s decision to ease the lockdown.
“The economy, jobs, industry and schooling can be recovered, the lives of workers, teachers and children cannot.”
Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule has since suggested that the date for the reopening of schools had already been changed from 6 May after the social cluster had deemed the proposed timeline unrealistic.
“We cannot say we are presenting a cast [in] stone plan if the members of the portfolio and select committees see some gaps that you cannot go on this. Yesterday after presenting to the social cluster, the social cluster indicated that the date of the 6th is not realistic. So we need to change it, which [in] the presentation that I have now, that date is changed.”
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)