Angie Motshekga is facing an uphill battle to make her ‘back to school’ plan stick, after unions and educational activists cranked up the pressure on the embattled education minister.
Earlier this month, Motshekga revealed that children in Grade 7 and Grade 12 would be told to return to their classrooms on Monday 1 June, leading the way for the rest of South Africa’s schoolchildren. However, her plans faced an enormous backlash, and legal action has been taken against the minister to halt the proposals. According to the Sunday Times, reopening the schools tomorrow now seems ‘unlikely’.
Various dissenting voices, including the biggest teaching unions in the country and influential school governing bodies, have apparently expressed concerns about a general lack of preparedness across many facilities.
The most common issues raised include a lack of PPE arriving at schools and fears over high infection rates putting the kids – as well as the teaching staff – at risk.
Meanwhile, One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has opened a court case, listing Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Angie Motshekga, and the Government of South Africa as the respondents.
Maimane has been one of the leading voices against reopening schools at this point and was behind a widely-shared petition to keep the gates closed for the time being. The momentum is certainly swinging away from Motshekga and her team, but there could still be a surprise in store on Sunday.
Angie Motshekga is set to make a public address later in the day, to give clarity on whether the first batch of students will be allowed to make their way into school, or if they will be told to stay at home. According to the deputy minister of Basic Education, we’re expecting the speech to start at 18:00.