Basic Education: Court bids to prevent school reopening pile up

With One SA Movement and Former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader set to return to court with a fresh bid to stop the reopening of schools following a three-month hiatus during the nationwide lockdown, a number of other agencies and organisations are lining up bids of their own against the Department of Education. 

The Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA), as well as the Equal Education Law Centre, and civil law organisation Section27 have all indicated that they will seek legal intervention against Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who has developed the back to school staggered approach plan. 

These organisations have cited the rapid increase of cases in schools since their reopening for Grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June as the primary reason why classrooms should remain vacant for the time being. 

EUSA blame rising COVID-19 cases in schools on premature reopening

EUSA have indicated that they plan to protest the issue, saying that over 2 000 students and teachers have contracted the virus since kids returned to school. 

“In just three days of school reopening, we have seen over 2 000 cases of learners and teachers testing positive COVID-19 and a subsequent closure of more than 100 schools across the country,” they said on Monday 15 June. 

“To make matters worse over five teachers have already died from COVID-19.”

They said that they had urgently warned the Department of Basic Education (DBE) that a rapid spread of the virus would occur if schools were reopened too early, and charged that “arrogance and corruption” had ensured that the department remained mum to their requests. 

“This is the very same urgency that EUSA was trying to warn DBE of,” they said.

“We are yet to see more infections and death in the coming week. This is all ignored as we are led by corrupt and arrogant politicians who prioritise tenders for PPE’s and food nutrition over human life.”

Section27 launch food programme case against DBE

Section27 believe that the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which was suspended during the break from school, should resume regardless of whether children are back in classrooms or not. 

They have filed a separate case against the DBE, hoping to resume the programme and put food in the stomachs of millions of vulnerable children. 

“SECTION27 have filed an urgent court application implicating the Department of Basic Education for the failure to reinstate the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) for all learners. The failure to reinstate the NSNP deprives millions of learners of daily meals,” they said on Twitter on Monday 15 June. 

“We are asking the court to set out a declaratory order to remind DBE that they have a constitutional duty to ensure that all qualifying learners receive their meals regardless of whether or not they have returned to school physically or not,” says Section27 spokesperson Julia Chaskalson.

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