Majority of SA’s adults want schools closed, study shows

The majority of South African adults want schools to remain closed.

  • Sixty percent of South African adults do not want schools to reopen amid the Covid-19 peak. 
  • This is according to research by the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council.
  • A government decision about the reopening or closure of schools is expected to be announced soon. 

Sixty percent of adults do not want schools to reopen amid the Covid-19 peak.

This was a key finding from a survey conducted by researchers from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). 

Professor Kate Alexander, South African Research Chair (SHARChi) in Social Change at UJ, points out that the survey’s findings will come as a blow to the government as it continues to ponder what to do about schools.

“It may want to reconsider its present policy,” says Alexander.

The results are representative at a national level, having been weighted by race, age and educational level.

Confidence intervals have been calculated and are included in the table below.

Support for re-opening of schools, by overall frequency. UJ/HSRC

Support for re-opening of schools, by individual income per month. UJ/HSRC

There are also some large differences when the findings are cross-tabulated with party allegiance. This is shown in the table below. DA supporters are more likely to agree with the reopening of schools for all grades, followed by the ANC and the EFF. This may reflect income differences among the parties’ potential voters. Nevertheless, a majority from all three parties were opposed to schools reopening. 

Support for re-opening of schools, by party allegiance. UJ/HSRC

Men were more likely to have a negative view of schools reopening, with 63% opting for this position compared to only 57% of women.

Support for re-opening of schools, by gender. UJ/HSRC

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to advise Cabinet to close schools around the country for three weeks.

This is according to a TimesLIVE report, which quotes “impeccable sources within the teacher unions” who attended a meeting chaired by Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule on Wednesday night.

READ | Cabinet to be told to close schools for 3 weeks amid Covid-19 peak – report

The NCCC will reportedly table the recommendation to Cabinet on Thursday, and either Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga or President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the Cabinet’s decision.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told News24 consultations with the sector’s stakeholders were continuing ahead of another Cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday.

ALSO READ | Schools closure: Cabinet causing ‘anxiety’ as it dithers to keep schools open or not, say unions

Researchers: Professor Kate Alexander, University of Johannesburg; Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, Human Sciences Research Council.

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