Buntu Joseph to shutdown Western Cape schools

Cosatu's Buntu Joseph says they will shut down Western Cape schools, and WCED says this will not be tolerated.

The Congress of South African Students has vowed to shut down schools due to the continued spread of Covid-19.

Last week, a group of Cosas members forcefully removed learners at various schools in Bloemfontein, and there have been differing reports regarding a gathering at Rhodes High School in Cape Town on Monday.

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Cosas national task team member for the Western Cape Buntu Joseph, and Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, about a planned move by members of Cosas to shut schools down over Covid-19 safety concerns.

Joseph insists the move to shut down schools is to save lives of learners, teachers, and parents.

We will be shutting down schools here in the Western Cape.

Buntu Joseph, National Task Team – Cosas Western Cape

He says if a pupil becomes infected with Covid-19 they can take it home and infect a parent or grandparent.

They might then succumb to Covid-19.

Buntu Joseph, National Task Team – Cosas Western Cape

Joseph says in the one week Western Cape schools a number of educators have lost their lives to the virus.

It means the Western Cape Education Department is doing something wrong because each and everyday numbers are increasing meaning this thing of PPEs is not working.

Buntu Joseph, National Task Team – Cosas Western Cape

He says Cosas has tried to contact the Western Cape Department of Education to raise concerns.

We have tried to get in touch with the Department of Education but the MEC of Western Education is very arrogant. She is the very same MEC who went on live television and said that she will not release the stats of teachers and learners.

Buntu Joseph, National Task Team – Cosas Western Cape

How many schools in the Western Cape have been closed, he asks?

In fact, she has mandated the schools not to tell parents if there is a case at school. So we are dealing with such a character.

Buntu Joseph, National Task Team – Cosas Western Cape

He confirms, however, that Cosas will be meeting with the National Department of Education.

Joseph says the shutdown at Rhodes High School starting on Monday will continue until the department responds to their concerns.

Education MEC Debbie Schafer responds and says Joseph’s claims are untrue.

We have given statistics about how many teachers and how many learners have Covid cases in ou schools as well as the number of schools that have been affected – so I am not quite sure where that comes from.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

She says Cosas engaged directly with the National Minister of Education about the dates for reopening of schools rather than the provincial department.

I have been in touch with the provincial secretary yesterday. Last night we had a WhatsApp discussion and agreed we would try and meet this week to see exactly what their concerns are.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

Will this shutdown infringe on the rights of students who want to go to school? Shafer says yes.

I’ve never understood the purpose of those preventing others from doing what they have the right to do and want to do. I really don’t appreciate this kind of behaviour. It is infringing on their rights and we won’t tolerate it.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

We are prepared to discuss their issues and see if we can come to a common understanding but we certainly won’t put up with people being prevented from going to school.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

Shafer acknowledges there is a great deal of fear among parents about the opening of schools and this needs to be addressed.

But what people don’t seem to understand is it not the schools being open that spreads the virus. It is people being out anywhere that spreads the virus.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

Most of the cases in the Western Cape occurred before the schools opened, she adds.

This will continue to happen as long as people go out to the shops or go out anywhere.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

The spread will continue until it reaches its peak and then will start to go down, she says,

But it will still be around. And that’s why we saying we have to continue with education because we cannot keep on for another year or more where learners are really suffering and struggling., especially the poor.

Debbie Schafer, MEC – Western Cape Education Department

She says all the schools in the province have received the basic PPE and more are being delivered as needed.

Listen to the interview below:

Originally Published by Cape Talk

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