Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said postponing the academic year over COVID-19 fears is not an option for the country, because it would have catastrophic consequences.
Motshekga is monitoring the return of matric pupils to schools in Brits in the North West province.
The minister said acceding to calls for the academic year to resume next year would make it difficult to admit the one million grade r pupils who need to enter the system in 2021.
Motshekga said the education system was already facing harsh consequences as a result of school closures and poor pupils have been hardest hit.
“For me, it’s even catastrophic as it is to have kids, especially poor kids, who have no access to reading material and are sitting at home since March. For me, it’s a disaster.”
Despite fears of COVID-19 spreading through schools, Motshekga said the academic programme for this year has to be concluded, especially for matric pupils.
“We need grade 12s to move to allow space for the grade 1s, just to get the system to breathe.”
Motshekga has reiterated the call for parents to home-school their children if they fear that they may contract the virus at school.