Private schools public schools

Image via: Adobe Stock

Private schools remaining open divides public opinion

According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, public schools will take a four-week break and private schools will remain open.

Private schools public schools

Image via: Adobe Stock

At first, it appeared that all schools would be closed for four weeks for the safety of learners against COVID-19. Then Mzansi read the fine print and realised that only public schools would be taking a four-week break while private schools would remain open. 

Government may have thought they gave the people what they wanted but it wasn’t that simple. According to Twitter’s trending hashtag, #Private Schools, they may have made a critical error.


If you’re out of the loop, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday 23 July, announced and confirmed Cabinet’s decision that public schools would take a four-week break from 27 July to 24 August in an effort to protect learners, teachers and who they go home to. 

While parents, teacher unions and even One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane have been advocating for the closure of schools, some citizens were caught off guard when they realised private schools would remain open. 

The Department of Basic Education issued out a statement just after Ramaphosa’s address emphasising the decision. According to their statement, these are the new dates and conditions for schools: 

  • Four weeks break starting on 27 July 2020 – 24 August 2020 for public schools;
  • Allow Grade 12 learners and teachers a break in the first week (27-31 July 2020);
  • School Management Teams using the whole of the first week (27-31 July 2020) to wrap up work at school and returning with teachers a week earlier (17-21 August 2020) for the return of learners;
  • Grade 7 learners to return on 10 August 2020;
  • The academic year will be extended beyond 2020;
  • School Management Teams to ensure that NSNP continues during the break under safe and orderly conditions;
  • Arrangements for different categories of special schools should be made; and
  • Establishment of the Task Team comprising key stakeholders in the sector to deal with identified challenges.

As clear as day the first line reads that public schools, in particular, will take a four-week break and according to EWN, the National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations (Naisa) said most private schools will continue with the 2020 academic programme.


The decision to close public schools and have private schools remain open has shown South Africa’s deep wounds, so to speak. 

Many feel that by making that decision, government has indirectly admitted the inequality that exists between private schools and public schools. 

While some appreciate that public schools will close in the name of safety, others are horrified that learners from private schools will be able to receive an education while remaining protected from COVID-19, while learners from public schools have to sacrifice their education in order to stay safe due to poor infrastructure. 

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi took to Twitter saying: 

“Ramaphosa reaffirmed the colonial segregation of public [and] private schools. COVID-19 didn’t disrupt private school learning at all. For them, online learning is the norm. Even if you gave a poor kid-free data [and] gadgets, there’s truly no room in their spaceless households for learning!” 

“It’s not a matter of being satisfied or not. Private schools should also be closed. Every child is equal according to SAn law. Why do private schools pupils receive [an] education while ones in public schools don’t? But then again, ANC serves the minority, poverty cycle continues,” said a Twitter user. 

“You see what you’re creating my fellow president. [It’s] unfair, silver spoons vs bronze spoons,” said another.