Tuesday | 09 June | 2020
Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Social Workers together with the School Support Centre (SSC) today appealed to the Pretoria High Court by launching an urgent court application to force the Minister of Social Development and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to decide on the opening of private nursery schools and day care centres. This follows after both Ministers failed to respond to an urgent letter sent to them on 4 June.
Due to the urgency of the matter, Solidarity and the SSC requested the court to place the matter on the roll as soon as 23 June.
“It is outrageous that departmental nursery schools are allowed to open, but that their private counterparts are not allowed to open yet,” said Marisa Engelbrecht, sector head for the Solidarity Occupational Guild for Social Workers. “It is important for children to be able to learn in a healthy way, for teachers and school staff to stimulate children correctly so that they can reach their full potential, and for parents to be able to leave their children at a safe and stimulating school setup where they can be taken care of, while parents are out earning an income.”
According to Engelbrecht the problem is much deeper than simply preventing children to pitch at school. “In the early development phases of children, physical and cognitive development are of extreme importance, and postponing school attendance may hold extremely negative consequences. Furthermore, many children attending these schools rely on nutrition feeding schemes offered at these schools, and they also need other forms of social help which they are now being deprived of. It is clear that by failing to provide clarity on this issue, the government is not acting in the children’s best interests at the moment.”
Also, thousands of parents have returned to work at the start of level 3, making it imperative that nursery schools and daycare centres are open so these parents have a place of care for their children.
“Private nursery schools are also businesses that provide jobs to thousands of South Africans. The staff and owners of these schools and centres must have the right to be able to do business healthily, as many other businesses now have that right,” Anton van der Bijl, head of Labour Law Services at Solidarity said.
During the past week, Solidarity and the Schools Support Centre have been inundated with support to expedite the reopening of private nursery schools. “It is in the best interests of the child, the parent, the staff and owners of these schools and that is why we continue to bring this application before the court. If the government does not want to act in the best interests of its citizens, we will fight for those interests,” Van der Bijl concluded.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.