‘Preventing private schools from opening is not going to disrupt inequality’

The Basic Education Department has given private or independent schools the green light to open from Monday and public school are only allowed to open on the 15th of February. Education expert, Prof. Mary Metcalfe says preventing private schools from opening is not going to, in any meaningful way, disrupt inequality as pupils can still learn from home.

Her comments come as Congress of South African Students (Cosas) threatens to shut down private schools that re-open before the 15th.

Metcalfe says Cosas is correct about the inequalities that exist in our society.

“Where I’m at sympathy with Cosas is that we have a society with huge inequalities and in order for us as a country to move together in a way that all people benefit from our democracy, we have to constantly combat these inequalities, through mechanisms we take economically and educationally to direct resources to where they are most needed,” said Metcalfe.

“Trying to stop private schools from opening is not going to in any meaningful way disrupt that inequality because private school children will still be learning at home. So Cosas is correct, inequality is a problem in our society but we need to rigorously address how we can reduce inequalities and direct resources to those in most need so that they benefit from our democracy.”

Metcalfe said only the Minister of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs can prevent a private school from opening.

She added that different types of schools learning and providing education to children who come from families or communities of vastly unequal resources at home will experience the lockdown differently. She said children with access to resources can learn at home whether schools are open or closed.

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