By the time South African schools reopen, the biggest issue is not going to be how to salvage an academic year, but how to get learners to return to school in the first place. Far more than just learning is at stake.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the evening of 23 July 2020 that schools would once again be closed came as a painful reminder of this government’s shockingly poor prioritisation and understanding of education.

Many of us are fully aware of the dire impact of the pandemic on all sectors and aspects of global societies and communities. Nothing could have prepared us for what the world is currently facing.

Yet, even under unpredictable and challenging circumstances, citizens have the right to expect leadership and sound judgment from those who have been elected into power. Ramaphosa’s latest highly unconvincing announcement is the continuation of an ongoing broken narrative in this sector.

Despite a litany of policies which were meant to address desperately needed educational reform, our education system continues to be defined not only by wholly inadequate and, at times, disgraceful educational facilities and resources, but also a questionable curriculum, unqualified and underqualified teachers, high learner attrition, overcrowded classrooms, high…

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