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MEETING FOR FINAL DECISION ON SCHOOLS REOPENING TODAY

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SITEKI – The final decision on the reopening of schools will be taken today.

A proposal on the table is that schools should reopen next Tuesday. The ministry, together with SNAT, Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) and the country’s four regional education officers (REOs), will this morning hold a meeting in which a final decision will be made regarding the contentious issue of schools reopening. SNAT Secretary General (SG) Sikelela Dlamini said government should first address the issues raised by pupils before reopening schools. Dlamini said a majority of schools had not yet received the free primary education (FPE) and orphaned and vulnerable children’s (OVCs) grants. The SG also stated that government had also not employed teachers as per their recommendation.

Critical

He said it would be inappropriate to reopen schools before addressing the critical issues first as they would make the situation unworkable in schools. “It is true, we are meeting tomorrow (today) to come up with the final decision on the reopening of schools next week. However, government has not yet addressed some of the things that were recommended, which makes it impossible to resume lessons,” he said. Welcome Mhlanga, President of EPA, said today’s meeting would be fundamental towards giving a real picture if government was ready to reopen schools after having given stakeholders feedback on a number of issues raised in their previous meeting.

Mhlanga said today’s meeting would be a follow-up to what had been discussed in previously held meetings. The EPA president said government should be able to address the meeting on what it had done to address the issues that were raised by  stakeholders. He said it was an important meeting that would shed light on the proposed date of reopening of schools.

Vital

“We raised a number of issues among them being the payment of FPE, just to mention a few. We will know tomorrow how far government has gone in addressing them. That will be vital to give us a clear picture if government is ready or not,” he said. The ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS), Bheki Gama, said today’s meeting would benchmark the final deliberations and map a way forward on the proposed date of schools reopening. The PS said they would only focus on educational matters raised by the stakeholders. “The meeting will only focus on educational matters and won’t be discussing politics as that is not within our jurisdiction as a ministry. We will have a definite answer tomorrow on the reopening of schools,” he said. Meanwhile, government closed schools after pupils started rioting and burning furniture and vandalising classrooms.

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