- Jun 25, 2010
The DA does not support the decision by President Ramaphosa to close schools for four weeks. President Ramaphosa has bent the knee to all-powerful teachers’ unions, in particular SADTU, who do not have the best interests of learners at heart. This is not leadership. President Ramaphosa is...
Teacher unions come first, children (who can’t vote) come last.
The DA does not support the decision by President Ramaphosa to close schools for four weeks.
President Ramaphosa has bent the knee to all-powerful teachers’ unions, in particular SADTU, who do not have the best interests of learners at heart. This is not leadership. President Ramaphosa is behaving like a “spectator President”, taking instructions from whichever powerful interest group threatens him more.
This decision is not supported by the best available evidence, it is not supported by education experts, and it is not supported by the virus data. The scientific evidence is that schools do not expose learners and staff to higher levels of risk than any other places.
Closing schools will have a devastating effect on children for years to come. It will make inequality in our society worse. The school year will be further disrupted and may be compromised altogether. Many learners will drop out and never return or will fall behind to the point that they can never catch up. School feeding schemes will be further compromised. Schools will be vandalized. As education is compromised, so poverty will go up, along with the suffering and loss of life that accompanies that. Let us be under no illusion: poverty kills.
The announcement tonight was lacking in necessary detail, leaving parents without the information they need to plan for the disruption of the weeks ahead.
Of course, parents choosing to keep their children at home should be allowed to do so. But many parents need to go back to work at a time when jobs are scarce. The evidence is that learners practice better physical distancing and hygiene measures at school than they do outside school (where they may be unsupervised while parents are at work).
After four weeks of school closures, the virus will still be there. What happens then? Do we succumb meekly to extensions, even as government keeps on failing to build testing or treatment capacity?
But let us not be under any illusions. The ANC government’s decision to close schools has nothing to do with ensuring the safety of South Africa’s children or teachers and everything to do with ensuring the survival of the ANC and its incapable state.
This decision underscores the ANC’s indifference to the fate of South Africa’s children. It comes not even a week after the Pretoria High Court found that the basic education minister and the eight ANC provincial education heads had breached their constitutional duty by freezing the school feeding scheme.
Instead of an education and a bright future, the ANC is bequeathing our children debt, hunger, and ignorance.