Confusion over school periods for the election

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education Mbali Frazer. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education Mbali Frazer. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 27, 2024


Durban — There were mixed reactions following the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s circular stating that some schools earmarked as voting districts would close from May 27-31 to accommodate the elections.

“To this end, teachers and general staff of the affected schools may have to hand over the schools to the office of the IEC from Monday (today), May 27 until Friday, May 31 so as not to interfere with the IEC process and for the safety and well-being of learners,” read the circular.

However, there seemed to be a misunderstanding of the circular from concerned parents and other organisations about the directive.

IEC provincial communications spokesperson Thabani Ngwira said that 3 754 schools and ECD centres would be used as polling stations, but not for the entire week.

Vee Gani from the KZN Parents Association was quoted by a Daily News’ sister publication saying that it made sense to only close the smaller schools where voting would take place and not the bigger ones, but in future, the IEC should consider using other buildings such as community halls so that this problem would not be repeated.

“Where schools are very small, and by having the elections and (where) the preparation and the aftermath of the elections are going to disrupt the schools I can understand, but where the schools have the capacity to operate without any interference from the elections themselves, I think those schools must be allowed to run. Because it’s very difficult to make up for the loss of teaching time,” said Gani.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said that the IEC did not claim exclusive use of the school for the week nor did the department instruct any school to close for the week.

Matakanye Matakanya, the general secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, urged parents not to just accept the school closures as their children would pay the price.

“There is a serious consequence in the sense that now children are going to lose and miss (out) for the whole week as compared to other children. And the possibility is that those children at the end of the term are going to fail and that will impact particularly the Grade 12s because they are going to use those reports for applying to universities,” he said.

KZN Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi was quoted in the media saying the safety of pupils and teachers was the key reason they decided to close schools that served as voting stations. He added that it was not the first time they had made this decision.

Mahlambi said instead of teachers and pupils coming to school and being sent back home, it made sense to close the schools so that parents had time to make arrangements for the children.

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