Covid-19: DA calls for urgent engagement as KZN teacher unions instruct members to ‘stay away’ next week

Issued by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
28 May 2020 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Education portfolio committee Chairperson, Jomo Sibiya, to urgently convene a meeting between representatives of the Department of Education (DoE) and teacher unions in the province.

This after a scathing joint statement issued by unions yesterday, in which members were instructed to ‘stay away’ from school next week amid claims that KZN schools are nowhere near ready to reopen. The statement has also slammed DoE leadership for failing to fulfil their promises in terms of Covid-19 back to school regulations.

Worse still, unions allege that schools to be visited – as part of today’s portfolio committee’s oversight visits – have been staged to look good and that they do not reflect the reality in the rest of the province.

These claims are of great concern to the DA. They also come after we raised our own concerns during last weeks portfolio committee meeting and again on Wednesday, which still require clarity.

All of these allegations must be tested. If verified, strong steps must be taken to hold those accountable for any lapse in upholding regulations. Equally, if unions’ claims are found to be unsubstantiated, there must be repercussions for those using this as an opportunity to yet again halt our children’s access to education.

The DA sincerely hopes that Chairperson Sibiya will act swiftly to ensure that the portfolio committee plays its principal oversight and public participation function. We welcome his prompt response to our request for this engagement.

We remain committed to the position that schooling must begin but only within a safe environment. We will continue to visit KZN’s schools to confirm readiness for ourselves and will make known any issues we find which suggest that a school or schools should not open.