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MBABANE – Schools are ready to open, but the biggest challenge now is inadequate health facilities where sick learners and teachers could be admitted in a worst case COVID-19 scenario. 

This was revealed by Minister of Education and Training Lady Mabuza when requested to give an update on the reopening of schools in the country. 

Mabuza said the issue of reopening of schools was very sensitive in that every decision taken should be considerate and accommodate all possible situations. 

She said preparations to reopen schools were at an advanced stage so much that it was safe to reopen, but there were other challenges that needed equal attention. 

The minister highlighted that the ministry was responsible for over 354 000 learners and over 17 000 teachers. 

“Imagine if 1 000 teachers could contract the virus all at once in the Shiselweni Region, where would we accommodate them? We don’t want a situation where we reopen schools but fail to deal with the worst possible scenario,” she shared.

In his address, during the official opening of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament, the King highlighted that keeping people at home had sadly meant closing schools and many of the learners were now lagging behind in their lessons, as only a few were attending classes. The King highlighted that a year had gone by and everyone was keen to see all the learners return to school. 

“We need to ensure that this process is carried out with due care and attention so as to realise a safe reopening environment that will not cause a rise in new infections,” he said. 

In that spirit, Mabuza said government was collectively looking at ways to overcome the situation, but she didn’t elaborate much on what they would do to help the situation, except to say government, through the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, would announce the date of the reopening of schools when it had been set. 


When requested to give a glimmer of hope to frustrated parents who are eagerly waiting to know the reopening of schools date, at least by giving a timeframe on the return of classes, Mabuza said the ministry had a bad experience with dates and they preferred not to hint on the reopening of schools.

“The issue of dates and time- frames have previously come back to haunt the ministry and half the time we are blamed for giving false hope when the dates are actually not official. Parents should be patient with government, we are working tirelessly to have schools reopened, but we should tread with caution,” she added. 

Schools in South Africa started reopening on Monday (February 15) for the beginning of the 2021 academic year, after a delay by weeks due to the second wave of the coronavirus. 

Masked parents and pupils had to sanitie their hands and have their temperatures checked before entering school premises. 

Mabuza said the country should not be compared to other countries in the reopening of schools as the circumstances and demographics were not the same. 

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