With most schools in the country set to reopen on Monday, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Thursday admitted it faced various setbacks in plans to resume the 2020 academic year.
Minister Angie Motshekga visited three schools in Gauteng to assess their state of readiness.
Pupils in grade 7 and 12 were expected back at school next week, despite concerns by many, including parents, unions, and political parties.
Motshekga said her department had faced several challenges, including the vandalism of schools during the national lockdown and the shortage of personal protective equipment.
Despite these hurdles, Motshekga said she was confident schools would be ready to accommodate pupils next week. She said the biggest challenge would be the phasing in of other grades.
“For now, space is not a problem and teaching staff is not a problem. So, most of them indicate that it is only after we bring in grade 10 pupils that the crisis is going to happen. That’s why I said the problem is going to arise when we go to the lower grades,” Motshekga said.
In the event that school teachers become infected with COVID-19, Motshekga said the department would hire more educators.
“We are going to use relief teachers when a teacher gets ill. So, we have a register of them but I’m also working with agencies like Teach South Africa to come and start inducting our qualified young teachers who have been applying. Others for three years have completed their studies, but we were not able to absorb them,” she said.
Motshekga said schools that would reopen on Monday would focus on administrative issues and gradually start lessons.