Public schools to break for four weeks; SIU proclamation to deal with corruption

Public schools to break for four weeks; SIU proclamation to deal with corruption
27 Jul 2020

Cabinet has decided that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks.

President Ramaphosa announced this during an address to the nation last night on progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president indicated that, following calls for schools to be closed again, the basic education department, over the last few days, met with more than 60 organisations representing parents, school governing bodies, principals, educators, independent schools and civil society organisations.

Discussions were also held with the Council of Education Ministers that represents provincial education departments.

The president pointed out that the “consultations provided important insights into the experiences of the different stakeholders in education, and produced a broad range of divergent views”.

He indicated that finding consensus on the best approach was difficult but all stakeholders agreed that the “health, academic and social development of learners must remain our foremost concerns”.

Public schools will be closed from 27 July and re-open on 24 August.  However, Grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a one-week break, returning to school on 3 August while Grade 7 learners will take a two-week break, returning to school on 10 August.

The president added that specific arrangements will be made for different categories of special schools.

He also announced that the current academic year will be extended beyond the end of 2020.

Details on the management of the remainder of the school year will be provided by the basic education minister.

The president also announced that, in order to speed up and strengthen the process of dealing with corruption, he has signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution.

“This empowers the SIU to probe any allegations relating to the misuse of COVID-19 funds across all spheres of the state.”

Should the SIU find evidence that a criminal offence has been committed, it will be referred to the prosecuting authority.

The SIU is also empowered to institute civil proceedings for the recovery of any damages or losses incurred by the state.

Interim reports on the investigations will be provided to the president every six weeks.

The president declared that government was “determined that every instance of alleged corruption must be thoroughly investigated, that those responsible for wrongdoing should be prosecuted and that all monies stolen or overpriced are recovered”.

The president also emphasized that South Africa needs to immediately work on a social compact for economic recovery, growth and transformation as the virus will continue to be a part of our lives for some time to come.

Government is “engaging with all social partners on a common economic recovery programme that uses every means at our disposal to unlock growth and create employment”.

“We see a great deal of alignment across the various plans and proposals that have been put forward by various groups in society, and we are building a consensus on the practical measures we need to take now and in the coming months.”

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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