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Reopening of Higher Education and Basic Education: Institutions must be allowed to decide for themselves; there should be no obligation

The Departments of Basic as well as Higher Education's final decision regarding the reopening of the education sector emphasised the discrepancy between the various educational institutions' state of readiness.

While some schools, colleges and universities are able to meet all the requirements for reopening without posing a health risk, others are totally and utterly unprepared. This discrepancy is evident across the board, from districts where the Covid-19 pandemic is absent to those that find themselves in the grip of it.

This reality merely serves to confirm the FF Plus's view that South Africa as a state is overly centralised. Meaning that decisions that should rather be made on local level are made on national level.

Ultimately, parents carry the final responsibility for their children and no parent should be forced to make decisions regarding school attendance that they feel uncomfortable with. And yet education and training must be resumed in some or other way.

The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, made mention of the fact that South Africa has an unequal educational dispensation as some institutions are better prepared to resume their activities. He blamed these discrepancies on the pre-1994 history and failed to take into account that the mismanagement during the current and recent academic years has had a detrimental effect on some institutions.

Nonetheless, he also pointed out that efficient institutions that are ready must be allowed to reopen before the others, because they can gain valuable experience. And in the end all students will benefit from it. This principle should also apply to schools.

And for the parents and learners who want to make use of home-schooling, the possibilities are endless. It is interesting to note that in his submission to the Portfolio Committee, the director-general of Basic Education pointed to the role that home-school organisations could play.

Previously, those who are home-schooling felt that the Department was suspicious of them, but now they are apparently recognised as valuable partners. Even university students have prospects that would make them less dependent on the government.

Humankind has indeed ventured into uncharted territory, even in the field of education. Parents, teachers and students should navigate this situation in such a way that education ultimately gains more independence from the government.

Contact details: 074 166 5540‪

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