SADTU Limpopo Province Media Statement on the Re-Opening of Schools on the 01st of June 2020

30 May 2020

SADTU Limpopo Province issued a media statement on the 23rd May 2020 wherein we expressed our misgivings about the intention of the Limpopo Department of Education to recall educators back to work in preparation for the schools re-opening on the 01st June 2020. The union then advised the educators not to return to work as the department had not yet put in place the health safety precautionary measures before workers could return to work. We also indicated that the union would take the week that began on Monday 25th May 2020 to Thursday 28th May 2020 to assess the situation on the ground and would then indicate our position on whether the department was ready to re-open schools or not.

Accordingly, the union tasked all of its structures to give daily reports on their observation about whether the department was complying with the delivery of all the required resources needed like PPE's as well as attending to other strategic risks identified to be addressed first before the schools can re-open. The reports submitted, viewed singularly and accumulatively, have painted a very bleak picture about the state of the Province's readiness to reo-open the schools on 01st June 2020. Amongst others, the reports indicated the following:

  • That not all PPE's have been delivered to schools and these include the cloth masks for both educators and learners.
  • That the department has not yet appointed screeners at the schools and trained them about executing their work. In some cases the department has attempted to coerce principals of schools to do this task.
  • The process of cleaning and disinfecting the schools was still underway due to financial constraints as a result of the norms and standards monies not yet paid.
  • There are no proper guidelines on managing educators presenting with co-morbidities as the policy to implement this was still being finalised at the national Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). The department has already jumped the gun by issuing a circular on attempts to address this matter while it is still being attended to by the (ELRC). We find this to be in bad taste.
  • The water tanks to be delivered to schools, with no running water, had not yet arrived at those schools.
  • Schools that had challenges of toilets have not yet been provided with mobile toilets as a mitigating factor.
  • The list is not exhaustive.

The union was further invited by the Office of the MEC Honourable Polly Boshielo on the 27th May 2020s for a briefing on the state of the readiness. While we noted some progress on certain areas, that meeting vindicated our long held view that the time given to provinces by the Minister of Basic Education Honourable Angie Motshekga to prepare themselves was way too little given the enormous challenges at hand. Good intentions alone, no matter how noble and plausible they may seem, do not equate to tangible and practical delivery on the ground.

Having considered all of the above the PEC of the union that met on the 29th May 2020 therefore resolved as follows:

  • That we should afford the department enough time to put their house in order.
  • That the department should rework their time-table for the re-opening of schools not to be the 01st June 2020 as previously planned as doing otherwise would be tantamount to plunging both educators and learners into a war zone fully laden with landmines.
  • The department should only recall educators back to work once they have fully addressed all areas of concern raised by the union in all of our engagements. Where the schools are ready, the workers should report for duty to receive orientation and training on the new requirements.
  • That educators are advised not to report to school on the 01st June 2020 pending the finalisation of all of the above-mentioned issues.
  • That our structures should continue to monitor the situation on the ground and report back daily.

Having said that, the union remains open for any engagements with the department in order to find amicable solutions that will enable us to move forward.

Be Safe! Stay at Home! Protect Yourselves!

Issued by the Secretariat

Tjebane Sowell: Provincial Secretary - 082 808 3161
Mulalo Nevari: Deputy Provincial Secretary - 082 804 0800