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The Department of Basic Education has confirmed the updated 2021 return dates for both public and private schools in South Africa.
In a gazette published this weekend, Basic education minister Angie Motshekga indicated that the return of students will be staggered, with private school pupils allowed to return to school two weeks earlier than their public school counterparts.
The gazette also confirms that no pupils are allowed to return before the specified dates – either at public or private schools – although the document does not prohibit online or distance learning in any way.
Officials may also access school premises during the period of closure if required to do so, for purposes of preparation in anticipation of the reopening of schools.
The updated return dates are as follows:
- 25 January 2021: The principal, the school management team including Education Assistants and General Assistants (Basic Education Employment Initiative) and non-teaching staff must return to school;
- 1 February 2021: All educators must return to school;
- 1 February 2021: Private school learners may return to school;
- 15 February 2021: All learners must return to school.
Meanwhile the Department of Basic Education says it is working with Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) to ensure that all qualifying education assistants and general school assistants -- who were employed in December and have submitted all the required documents -- are paid this month.
In a statement, the department said some PEDs experienced challenges in processing the December stipends due, in part, to incomplete paperwork submitted (in some instances), which had to be returned to the affected schools for rectification.
"This happened at a time when schools were busy dealing with the administration of the end-of-year examinations, and preparations for the 2021 academic year, including finalising work related to 2021 post provisioning," the department said.
The department said the Provincial Education Departments are aware of the non-payment of some of the December stipends, and are working with education districts to ensure that all the necessary requirements are met “in order for everyone who qualifies to receive their payments".
The department said it is also working with Provincial Education Departments to implement the Presidential Employment Stimulus, through the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI).
The Presidential Employment Stimulus is an initiative that seeks to address youth unemployment, while simultaneously addressing the devastation of COVID-19 on households. For most young people employed under this initiative, this forms their first form of formal employment.
"The initiative aims to create temporary employment opportunities for 300 000 youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. Of these, 200 000 are education assistants and 100 000 are general school assistants.
"The second objective of the Presidential Employment Stimulus is to save jobs. As such, another aspect of the BEEI pertains to the saving of School Governing Body (SGB) funded posts in fee-paying schools and posts at government-subsidised independent schools," the department said.
To date, the department said 22 526 jobs have been saved and PEDs are adjudicating more applications to support saving more posts.