Reconsider reopening of schools – EFF

Fighters say result of using children as guinea pigs is now becoming evident

EFF statement on spike in Covid-19 cases in schools

23 June 2020

The Economic Freedom Fighters is alarmed and concerned by the rate at which COVID-19 cases are affecting the Basic Education Sector and the children of the country. The reckless decision by Angie Motshekga to use children as guinea pigs is now bearing fruits, and she is nowhere to be seen, while children contract the virus daily, and schools shut down as a result of a spike in cases all across the country.

As things stand, South Africa has 101 590 recorded positive cases of COVID-19. There are 1 991 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths, and there continues to be an increase in both cases and deaths as a result of the homicidal decision to reopen society despite a lack of scientific and epidemiological evidence to support the decision.

Since schools reopened on the 8th of June 2020, the Eastern Cape has had to close 196 schools due to COVID-19 infections. Most recently, over 180 learners in Makaula Senior Secondary School in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape have tested positive for the Corona Virus. In Gauteng, over 52 schools have been closed due to COVID-19, and in the Western Cape, 239 staff members have tested positive for the virus in over 160 schools.

The baseless confidence that the Basic Education Department had when it reopened schools earlier this month seems to have dwindled into nothing as they are nowhere to be found when the bankruptcy of their decision is revealed. Instead of restructuring the academic year to mitigate the impact of the virus, improving infrastructure and providing the necessary digital technologies to keep school children in touch with their studies, the Minister of Basic Education took the most simplistic and unimaginative approach to handle this crisis. As a result, schools will close day after day because of the predictable increase of infections. This will result in another disruption to the academic year with no coherent plan in place to salvage it.

Furthermore, the lack of readiness of schools qualitatively is central to the spike in infections in schools. Schools do not have running water, adequate Personal Protective Equipment and sanitation. The prevalence of pit toilets in schools in rural areas is a health risk and a danger to the lives of children.

We have seen most recently the tragic death of II-year old ImangeRawana. who drowned in a pit toilet in her home. The reality of pit toilets is dominant in schools, particularly in the Eastern Cape, with the state of neglect of communities how much more is the risk in schools for children which use pit toilets? The failure to mitigate this will lead to a loss of life due to lack of hygiene and the constant risk of accidents such as these.

We call on the Department of Education to reconsider the decision to reopen schools which were not based on any consideration for life or a sustainable return to the academic year. This sudden closures of schools due to the reality Of COVID-19 are not conducive to learning. and the anxiety of contracting the virus will hinder academic performance.

We cannot have certain schools, which are predominantly white-suburban operating, while the schools of the poor are left behind in an academic year which is characterized by separate development. It is poor black students who will be left behind. To continue under these circumstances is to jeopardize the lives of young people.

It will end in tears, and we will hold Cyril Ramaphosa and Angie Motshekga personally responsible. They have resolved to carry out their duties as public servants in the comfort of their homes. next to fire-places while risking the lives of the children of this country.

Issued by Vuyani Pambo, National Spokesperson, EFF, 23 June 2020