SADTU Free State condemns conduct of FS Provincial Education Department

20 June 2020

The union notes with disappointment the release of LTA 11 (NSNP) 2020 sent to schools on 19 June 2020 for implementation on Monday, 22 June 2020. We further note media announcement by Free State Provincial Education Department on provision of NSNP for all learners. Through this media announcement, community is informed that learners who are not yet at school and who normally receive NSNP meals may go to their respective schools to fetch their meals from Monday, 22 June 2020. This refers to learners in all Grades other than 12 & 7.

Whilst the union acknowledges the good intention of promoting provision of meals to all learners informed by the socio-economic state of communities during this period of COVID-19, the short period notice given to schools to implement is not well thought of and is recipe for disaster in the midst of increasing stats of people testing positive of coronavirus in the province and country wide.

With schools being informed on Friday, 19 June 2020 and expected to comply with the five points directives outlined in the circular, that instruction is inconsiderate and impractical to have the system ready on Monday, 22 June 2020.

Free State education department is reminded about the stage 3 lockdown regulations that all citizens (learners included) have to comply with to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Amongst others the following are still applicable; Screening and testing,
Wearing of masks, Social distancing, Washing of hands, Sanitizing and Disinfection of surfaces.

With the magnitude of the task ahead it will not be feasible for schools to provide learners with meals on the 22nd June 2020 considering that the department of education has not transferred NSNP allocation for the period April - June to schools. This will further increase pressure and panic on principals and officials as they are already overburdened with unreasonable directives from Directors and senior officials at Head Office to portray Free State as being ready whilst they are not.

We reject the notion that schools should utilise surplus funds which the department is aware that majority of schools are section 20 and partial section 21 and do not keep reserves in their accounts. It should be borne in mind that schools were instructed to redirect their budgets to address COVID-19 requirements.

There are Grade 7 learners who have not as yet attended classes since the 08th June 2020 because conditions in schools are very bad and in some areas water remains major challenge. Whilst these learners of which majority are in township schools remain at home, the department of education does not have any plan to support them, as they remain behind but expected to write same examination at the end of the year. Thermometers procured by department are of poor quality resulting in them not working in the morning and/or any time during the day, and with many learners expected to be screened, the one thermometer allocated per school is not enough and more screeners will be needed.

As SADTU in Free State we call upon the Superintendent General to retract the circular to afford schools reasonable time to plan thoroughly and be able to provide learners with the meal as expected.

We are further calling upon all parents of learners who are still at home not to risk the lives of their children by sending them to schools on Monday, 22 June 2020 until all the necessary arrangements would have happen.

ISSUED BY: PROVINCIAL SECRETARIAT

CONTACTS

Mokholoane Moloi: Provincial Secretary : 076 811 2777
Kedibone Frank: Deputy Secretary : 079 886 3317