Cyril Ramaphosa Level 5

Photo: GCIS

Schools opened or closed? Ramaphosa says it’s a matter of fierce debate

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the decision on whether to suspend academic activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be made soon.

Cyril Ramaphosa Level 5

Photo: GCIS

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is in talks around the contentious issue of schooling, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

Ramaphosa interacted with communities across the nation through a virtual Presidential Imbizo on COVID-19 on Wednesday, 15 July 2020.

It comes as calls have been mounting for all academic activity be suspended while the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is now a matter of great debate in our country. Teachers’ unions have come forward to say their own lived experiences that many [teachers] are being infected as well as learners. It’s a matter that is being debated and being discussed with the respective organisations and it will be given consideration to by the National Coronavirus Command Council as well”, he said.

Continuing schooling in other countries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against the reopening of schools while cases of the coronavirus are on the rise. Further afield, countries including France and the United States of America (USA) are preparing to welcome back pupils into the classroom.

“We will then assess what we have heard and discuss it with the medical advisory committee and come to a view in the light of what the WHO has said,” said Ramaphosa.

“I think we will come to a good and positive end which will be all-inclusive,” he said.

‘Consensus should be reached’

The president also said there had been a consensus on resuming schooling, but that the ultimate aim was to arrive to a resolution.

“Some of the learners that I came across said, ‘President, we want to come back to school, we are tired of being at home, we want to be in class and to learn.’ Their views also need to be heard but we also need to hear the views of the parents, the unions and learner organisations and community at large and whole lot of other organisations”, he said.

On Tuesday, 14 July 2020, the South frican Democratic Trade Union (Sadtu) announced that its National Executive Committee (NEC) had resolved that schools should not be reopened pending the surge in coronavirus cases.

The decision is an about-turn from Sadtu after it had joined other unions Naptosa, SAOU, Natu and PEU, as well as the School Governing Body Associations, in giving the go-ahead for pupils to return to school.