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SNAT’S 15 DEMANDS FOR SCHOOLS REOPENING

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MBABANE – Forget about opening schools unless you meet these 15 demands!
Teachers have given government an ultimatum to extensively disinfect schools and tertiary institutions in the country before reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.


They also want a site nurse deployed in every school and institution, with a kit that will enable the health professional to conduct temperature screening for the teachers, learners, members of the support staff and everyone entering each school as an open system on a daily basis.


Through their organisation, Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the teachers clearly made known the 15 conditions that must be met by government prior to the opening of schools.


SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini said government, through the Ministry of Education and Training, needed to move at a supersonic speed in achieving these requirements, failing which the 2020 academic year could simply be rendered a wasted year.
According to Dlamini, they wanted all the 970 schools (primary and secondary) and 30 tertiary institutions (both public and private), to be extensively disinfected. This should apply to both urban and rural schools.


Testing


The secretary general added that massive testing should also be rolled out, over and above the temperature screening process, as it were. He said evidence on the ground now revealed that local transmission was more rapid and that those infected presently had no history of travel or contact with a positive case.


Dlamini said some people tested positive even before they presented with the COVID-19 symptoms (asymptomatic).  This, he said, meant that many emaSwati were already positive but due to the fact that they had not tested, they would not know.
He said pre-existing medical conditions of both their members and learners needed to be seriously considered if they were to put up a fierce fight against the virus. “Illnesses and diseases are widespread in our country.

That, coupled with the high poverty levels, is a recipe for disaster. Our health institutions cannot be able to absorb a shock that can come with such an attack,” Dlamini said.
He said more support staff members should be hired and trained so that they could assist in fumigating and disinfecting the schools time and again.


He also said a team of health professionals should move around the country to inspect the different conditions in the various schools and tertiary institutions to determine the level of sanitation in these institutions.
Dlamini said these should then be placed in a continuum to necessitate the application of health and safety measures in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.


Further, he stated that all institutions must be provided with water tanks to ensure constant supply of clean running water.
“Schools that do not have running water need at least two tanks. The water demand remains high in such institutions due to lack of flush toilets. Those with running water need at least one tank to act as a backup should there be a system failure on the national infrastructure that is run by the Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC),” said the secretary general.


Demand


He said COVID-19 had increased the demand for water far beyond the known daily consumption. Dlamini also mentioned that government needed to also provide these institutions with adequate soap and sanitisers, otherwise without these, the provision of the water would not yield any positive results.


He said it was an indisputable fact that they were an organisation of workers (the teachers) but it was also true that they were a human rights organisation and as such, the protection of human rights was their paramount objective.
The secretary general said it was for the above reason that, as SNAT, they were concerned not only about the health and safety of their members but also that of the support staff, the learners under their care, immediate families as well as the general Eswatini populace.


Destabilising


The secretary general said they appreciated the scale of the challenge that engulfed the whole world presently. He stated that the coronavirus had hit all developing and developed countries alike, thereby destabilising human economies and social programmes.


“As SNAT, we are cognisant of the fact that as a nation we need to effect some adjustments by re-aligning certain aspects of the economy in preparation for the reopening of same. While doing that we ought to remember that our weak economy might also be swiftly overwhelmed by a resurgence of the COVID-19 if we are not careful,” said Dlamini.
Further, he said as SNAT, they had also noted that government tended to duplicate a majority of strategies that were being implemented by South Africa.


“We cannot copy and paste since our neighbours are far ahead of us in so many ways. As we rethink about the reopening of the economy, we need to exemplify a bit of realism regarding the issues that confront us as a people,” said Dlamini.
Schools were closed by government slightly over a week before the partial lockdown was announced.

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: Schools protests
Are the school protests a result of a lack of teachers or political unrest?