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DA files court papers to force govt to scrap rotational system in schools

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DA files court papers to force govt to scrap rotational system in schools

DA leader John Steenhuisen
Photo by Donna Slater
DA leader John Steenhuisen

26th January 2022

By: Sane Dhlamini
Creamer Media Researcher and Writer

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Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen filed court papers in the Gauteng High Court on Wednesday in an effort to compel government to immediately open schools fully.

The party has been trying to force Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to do away with the rotational system saying it deprives children of their constitutional right to education.

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In July 2021, the government’s own Ministerial Advisory Committee recommended that all schools should be open fully and instructed that children should be at least one metre apart within classrooms.

Steenhuisen said the rule is plainly unconstitutional and is implemented to satisfy government’s social distancing rule in classrooms.

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“The rotational system massively violates children’s constitutional rights to basic education, to basic nutrition, for children’s best interests to be paramount in all matters concerning them, and to equality,“  he said.

The DA says government has failed to provide a justification and is ignoring its own scientific advice. Steenhuisen says it is overwhelmingly in a child’s interest to go to school.

“Under the rotational model, schoolchildren’s access to basic education is being severely stunted, which will negatively impact the rest of their lives. South African schoolchildren in no-fee schools have lost over half of their normal school days since the start of the pandemic and have learnt less than half of what they would normally learn, “ he added.

He warns that the long-term effects on children will be lower educational attainment, lower earnings, higher unemployment, and lower-skilled occupations in adulthood.

On the issue of access to food, Steenhuisen says less than half of children received free school meals in February and March 2021.

Sheenhuisen argues that school children present a low risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19.

The risk is far too low to justify these enormous harms, he said.

“Furthermore, teachers and other adults have had plenty of time to get themselves vaccinated. So children cannot be made to pay the cost of keeping adults protected.

"This rule, therefore, amounts to a huge intergenerational injustice. Government is choosing to sacrifice those least able to defend their own interest,” he stated.

 

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