Wednesday 2021-04-14

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‘SCHOOLS OPENING SAFE FOR NOW’

By ANDILE NSIBANDE | 2021-04-08

ACTING Prime Minister Themba Masuku has assured the nation that schools are safe to open for now and parents should not be hesitant about paying school fees. Masuku insisted that at the moment taking pupils back into the education system remains a priority, and people should not let unnecessary fears stymie the educational development of their children. Masuku was responding to concerns raised by some parents who are hesitant about paying up in fear that school closures might be considered as a measure to tame the transmission of COVID-19 in the event of another spike in infections. The uncertainty among parents was created by pervasive talk about a looming third wave, so there were concerns that they might find themselves paying fees when another prolonged closure might be imposed by government as a preventive tool. "We all hope it will not come to that point. At least it is not anticipated for now. However, one cannot rule out using that tool again in the future should the need to protect lives arise. While at that it would not be wise for parents to allow fears to rule their lives as this might jeopardise efforts by the country to have educated children. If one doesn't pay, what will happen to the child when schools are not closed? We must not kill normal life simply because of fear," he said. The issue was raised at a time when some parents were juggling their thoughts between paying and not paying, which has been causing a lot of headaches for school administrators who are putting pressure on parents to pay. Since schools opened last Monday, several schools across the country have been turning away hundreds of pupils in order to put pressure on reluctant parents. This has led to a serious confrontation between the parents and school authorities who are eager to get the education machinery back in motion. authorities The principals' main concern was that it would be difficult to run the schools without parents paying fees on time. But undecided parents were inundating the school authorities with questions regarding what would happen regarding their money in the event government decides to close the schools again, like it happened in the previous year. These were also insisting on getting refunds for their 'unused' fees for last year where schools suffered prolonged closures as it was feared they could become spreading grounds for the dreaded virus. Brushing aside this argument, the acting PM said parents must not be ruled by assumptions. He insisted that children's lives and prosperity can't be put on hold. Although he conceded that the concern was understandable but he assured the nation that schools are safe for now, given the preventive measures that have been put in place. "We are being guided by health experts and schools are safe for now, the only thing that we have to ensure is happening is adherence to the guidelines as advised by the experts, that is the frequent washing of hands, wearing face masks and social distancing. This will help us to keep the virus at bay," insisted Masuku. Further, he mentioned that tremendous work has been done in schools across the country and parents should only assist in getting their children to stick to the advice as laid down by health officials. "What we are saying is that pupils should go to school and learn while parents, on the other hand, must keep to their obligation to pay," declared the acting PM. He maintained that tough adherence to the measures put in place by the ministry of health was key to reducing the risk of infection or spread of the virus.

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