South Africa

South African Teachers’ Union Urges Staff To Disobey Government’s Return-To-Work Order

South African teachers’ unions and governing associations on Friday made an appeal to their staff members to not abide by the government order that asks them to return to school next week as schools don’t have protective equipment (PPE) to keep educators and pupils safe from the novel coronavirus, reported Reuters.

The appeal comes as the South African government has announced the country’s economy will be re-opened on June 1, after almost two months of lockdown that led to a recession and left millions jobless. President Cyril Ramaphosa had imposed the lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Starting Monday, South Africa’s economy will return to full capacity, as the government moves to level three lockdown, lifting a curfew, a restriction on outdoor exercise and a ban on alcohol sales in addition to partly reopening schools.

Last week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the schools would be reopened from Monday, but only for grades 7 and 12, the last years of primary and secondary school, respectively.

“The education system … is not ready for the reopening of schools. If the PPE (protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser) have not been delivered by now, chances are slim that all schools will have them on Monday,” the joint statement released by the South African teachers’ unions and governing associations read. “We therefore call on all schools … not to reopen until the non-negotiables have been delivered.”

On Friday, South Africa’s state-run Human Rights Commission also urged the government to reconsider its decision to start opening schools until they are better prepared to handle the current situation.

 South Africa has reported over 29,240 confirmed cases, including 611 deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. So far, the number of patients who recovered from the deadly virus stood at 15,093, with a recovery rate of 52.4 percent.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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