Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

About 30% of registered matriculants have not returned to schools as planned in Gauteng during the lockdown‚ raising concern for the provincial education department.

Provincial education MEC Panyaza Lesufi confirmed this at a briefing on schooling in the province‚ which is now the epicentre of the coronavirus.

“It is still worrying that we can’t account for almost 30% of grade 12 learners who are not attending school in Gauteng. It is something we are working very hard to rectify because it has implications in terms of the skills base of the province but‚ most importantly‚ in terms of transition to higher education‚” he said.

While the debate continues on whether the education ministry was at fault by reopening schools in winter as Covid-19 infections are expected to peak‚ Lesufi painted an optimistic picture of how things have been at schools in the province.

He said of the 2‚131 public schools in the province‚ 1‚977 had been “risk-free”‚ meaning they had not reported any Covid-19 incidents.

“Only 154 schools opened and closed because of Covid.” These schools were decontaminated and reopened.

It was a similar trend with special schools. Lesufi said of the 129 special schools in the province‚ 105 were incident-free and 25 reported Covid-19 related disruptions.

Of the 713 independent schools‚ 656 were risk-free.

The province had in the past few weeks reopened its schools to accommodate grade R‚ 6‚ 7 and 11 pupils.

“Grade R had the lowest attendance‚” Lesufi said‚ adding that only 23% of the province’s grade Rs had returned to school.

Meanwhile‚ 53% of grade 6 pupils have returned to school‚ 58% of grade 7s and 61% of grade 11s‚ he said.

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