Angie Motshekga schools Monday

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga / Image via GCIS

Angie Motshekga’s ‘half-baked’ back to school plans torn to shreds

Petitions, criticisms and warnings greeted Angie Motshekga’s back to school proposals. Her department has been slammed for ‘escalating’ the COVID-19 threat.

Angie Motshekga schools Monday

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga / Image via GCIS

After three postponements and a dramatic build-up to the delivery, Angie Motshekga’s back to school proposals failed to capture the imagination of South Africans. The Department of Education wants the first cohort of learners to return to their classrooms on 1 June – but they’re struggling to find support.

Surprisingly, the plans have been welcomed by some structures of the DA: The Western Cape’s education authorities say they are ”pleased” with the new developments. But that’s as far as praise goes for the ministry, and the majority of reactions to the school blueprints have been negative.

Political reaction to the 1 June ‘back to school’ plans:

Mmusi Maimane launches petition against Angie Motshekga, school reopening dates

One of the most high-profile detractors is Mmusi Maimane. The former DA leader and current One South Africa activist has claimed that the decision to push for a school reopening in just 12 days was ‘half-baked”, and it only makes sense to send children back to the frontline by August – some three months from now.

“The announcement is a risky and dangerous gamble with the lives of our children. We fundamentally disagree with this half-baked, rushed decision. We are launching a petition to engage all South Africans over the next 11 days. It seems highly unlikely all 24 000 schools in Mzansi will be COVID-19 proof by June”

“We cannot allow our places of learning to become petri-dishes for infection. Our proposals to keep schools closed for another three months is the most sensible choice… They want to put kids and teachers at risk while they have Zoom meetings. It’s hypocritical. This is a democracy and we have options.”

Mmusi Maimane

Angie Motshekga branded “impractical” for back to school plans

You’ve also got the African Transformation Movement putting their Parliamentary voice to good use. The party was elected to the National Assembly last year, and they haven’t been afraid to agitate when they disagree with something. Their reaction to the government’s back to school plans has been typically frank:

“The opening of schools exposes infrastructure limitations in public facilities. Evident gaps between private and public schools will potentially escalate the spread of COVID-19. We openly do not support any of the strategies tabled by the Department of Education; they’re impractical and promise to be a recipe for disaster.”

ATM statement

“Screening is not sufficient”

The EFF has been muted by their own standards, but we’re expecting an official statement from the party later today. However, one of their MPs registered her discontent with Motshekga’s plans to screen all schoolchildren for the disease. Naledi Chirwa says these preventative measures don’t go far enough.