Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says it would not have served anyone’s interest to ask private schools to go on a break when public schools closed from July 27 until August 24.
Motsheka revealed this in response to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Susan Thembekwayo, who asked the basis of the decision to close public schools and keep private schools open.
Thembekwayo had also enquired if it was in the best interest of the education system to have one set of rules for public schools and another for private schools.
Motshekga said the decision to go on a school break was taken by the cabinet and then announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
She also said there were extensive consultations with more than 60 organisations in the education sector following a sudden spike in the rate of infections in communities.
“This resulted in fear and anxiety among parents, teachers and learners.”
Motshekga said stakeholders had made their inputs during the consultation, including stakeholders in the independent schooling sector spelling out the implications for the closure of schools.
“They indicated that their schools were not covered in the relief funds, and that some of their schools had closed down permanently due to the dire financial situation; and learners had been displaced and teachers lost jobs.
“It was, therefore, determined as not serving the best interest of anybody to ask private schools to go on a break,” she said.
The minister also said the independent schools use a trimester system whereas the public schools use quarterly terms.
“Their schools are also following the standard operating procedures and have submitted their records of compliance to all health and safety protocols as well as social distancing to the district offices before being approved to reopen,” Motshekga said.