Misleading information spread by ANC and aligned organisations
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education Western Cape
I have noted the statement issued by the ANC and aligned organisations referring to the return to school of more grades in the Western Cape from tomorrow.
Firstly, this is a very poorly disguised attempt at deflecting attention from the ANC-governed provinces, which are simply not able to take learners back, especially the Eastern Cape – where the health system is in chaos, and corruption continues to run rife, even during a global pandemic.
Secondly, they make pronouncements on issues that they clearly have no knowledge of, as their information is incorrect. On what basis have they now arrogated to themselves the ability to make assessments on which province is the epicentre? As at 4 July, the NICD figures show that Gauteng has 43 156 active cases, and the Western Cape 16 988. Increase in cases was 5 042 in Gauteng, 2 004 in the Eastern Cape and 1 440 in the Western Cape. So quite how they have come to the conclusion they have is interesting and concerning, as they are continuing to drive a narrative that instils fear in communities.
Likewise, their statements about our health system are incorrect. Our officials have been managing this crisis in a world-class manner.
The ANC and its allies appear not to have grasped the fact that they do not govern the Western Cape, as the voters have repeatedly confirmed since 2009. They are also going against the ANC national minister’s directions. Whilst they are entitled to their views, they have no right to “demand” that others share that view, nor to prevent our schools from opening and learners from attending.
It is not possible to predict when the peak will be, and to keep children from school indefinitely is contrary to their interests. Available medical evidence is that children are least susceptible to getting the virus, and if they do, of getting it badly. There is strong support from the people who do know, for the re-opening of schools with the safety protocols in place.
There are also many parents who are back at work, or who need to go back to work. For that, they need their children to be back at school.
The people who will be most affected by not returning to school are the poor. The education they are missing will have a lifelong impact on their futures. The longer learners are out of school, the more likely it is that they will drop out.
Lastly, it is deplorable to refer to law enforcement authorities as “intimidating” people who are violating the rights of others, and I condemn the actions of people who try to force others to follow their position. I would like to thank the law enforcement authorities for their support in protecting our teachers and learners.
We have repeatedly stated that overcrowded classrooms must be dealt with by alternative methods of teaching, such as splitting classes or having different grades attend on different days. The fact that this is continually raised shows that there is something else behind these protests.
We have also confirmed that parents may keep their children at home at the moment, provided that they apply via their school and take responsibility for their child’s learning.
So really, all these issues raised in the statement have solutions.
It is clear that there is nothing “progressive” at all about any of these organisations or individuals signing this statement – they are in fact retrogressive. To make false statements based on incorrect facts is not only irresponsible, but is going to disproportionately disadvantage the very people they claim to represent.
Spokesperson to Minister Debbie Schäfer
Western Cape Ministry of Education