Public schools were left with more questions than answers following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that schools will close on Monday (27 July 2020) for a period of four weeks. The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) says the organisation is disappointed with this decision.
“The Constitution determines that the best interests of the child should be the determining factor in decisions of this nature. Unfortunately, children will now suffer the most as a result of schools being closed again. There is ample research that provides evidence of the negative effect of interrupted education on an academic, physical and emotional level,” says Mr Paul Colditz, CEO of FEDSAS.
Colditz says FEDSAS is concerned that the announcement was done in isolation. “It is not supported by new regulations, directives or the publication of a new school calendar. In this case decision-makers such as school governing bodies are supposed to assume that the existing directives and calendar remain in effect.”
Colditz says FEDSAS is not able to provide guidance to its members until amended directives and a new school calendar are formally published. “However, schools are closed from Monday, which means that planning has to take place without any legal framework available. This makes an already challenging situation even more difficult.”
Although the President indicated in his speech that the decision was based on thorough consultation, the final plan was never shared with all role-players. “We were part of meetings where proposals were discussed but there was no consensus on a final plan,” says Colditz.
Colditz says FEDSAS is grateful that the school nutrition programme will be continued in accordance with an earlier court decision. “However, all children’s interests should be the first consideration when far-reaching decisions are made.”
FEDSAS will continue to make the organisation’s expertise and resources available and to form part of the solution during the national state of disaster.