ACDP proposes hybrid system as more children return to school

ACDP proposes hybrid system as more children return to school

The ACDP notes the announcement by the Minister of Basic Education Minister, Ms Angie Motshekga, in which she has said that more learners would be returning to school in the months of July and August.

**On July 6, 2020, Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 will return.*

**On August 3, 2020, Grades 4, 5, 8 and 9 will return.*

The ACDP encourages the Department to recognise the rights of parents, as we believe that no parent should be forced by the Department to send their child/children to school if they deem it unsafe, or should they be able to home-school.

We are of the opinion that the Department should introduce a hybrid system in order to facilitate the successful completion of the academic school year for ALL children.

The cold fact is that our schools are overcrowded, and that the next intake of learners on the 6th of July, and the 3rd of August, respectively, will most definitely impact compliance to health and safety standards negatively. The ACDP proposes that the DBE enable those parents who can home-school their children, to do so without having to de-register their children from school. In light of the impact of Covid-19 on our schooling system, the Department has to adapt and adopt a more flexible mind-set to schooling.

The ACDP is also concerned that the psycho-socio support that was set out by the minister is not easily accessible for both learners and teachers who seek the psychological support during this difficult time.

*In a hybrid system:*

**Three groups of children would be accommodated at a time.*

**Children whose parents can afford to home-school would be allowed to do so and receive the necessary support from the department.*

**Children in disadvantaged communities would collect work from school to practice, study, and work from home.*

**Children at risk in poorer communities who need supervision, and those who depend on the school nutrition programme, would attend school.*

This system is an alternative that is completely possible. Some schools have already adopted this method, particularly in the Western Cape.

The ACDP has full confidence that the hybrid system will address overcrowding in our schools, and that it would make life for parents, teachers, and children much easier and safer.

All is not equal in our society, and the loss of the academic year would further disadvantage children who live, and attend schools, in our poorer communities – the cost of which would negatively impact the next string of students going onto the next level.

The ACDP proposes the hybrid system because we cannot afford to have any of our children left behind.

ACDP concerned about spiralling public debt levels

ACDP concerned about spiralling public debt levels

In response to Finance Minister Mboweni’s Special Adjustment Budget to revise state spending in response to the ongoing health crisis, ACDP MP and Whip Steve Swart, this evening said,

“The minister had no fiscal space to move given that the economy is set contract by 7.5 % of GDP as a result of the hard lockdown, resulting in R300bn less than projected tax revenue.

This results in the budget deficit growing from an already high 6.8% of GDP (R370 5bn) to an enormous R761bn. Debt service costs, which were already crowding out expenditure on other budgetary items, are set to escalate to a staggering R4 trillion or 81.8 % of GDP.

While the ACDP supports additional funding to combat the virus pandemic, it is also necessary to assist struggling businesses and individuals. We welcome the financial assistance in this regard – believing we need to protect lives and livelihoods.

While much of the R500bn relief package will need to come from reprioritised funds and borrowing, the funds must be carefully spent and fully accounted for.

The ACDP supports real time auditing of such expenditure and swift action by the Hawks, NPA and SIU where any irregularities are uncovered.

This particularly given that municipalities, where rampant corruption occurs, are to be given substantial additional funds.

We also support moving to zero-based auditing by the state.

It is also crucial that the spiralling public sector wage bill is addressed. This, together with unacceptable bailouts to SOEs (such as the R3bn to the Landbank and talks of a new airline at substantial cost) are totally unaffordable during this crisis.

The ACDP welcomes the implementation of the Treasury’s Economic Growth strategy. The question is whether Mboweni has the political support to implement the very tough decisions which are necessary to implement this strategy to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and stave off a sovereign debt crisis in the medium term.

Mboweni today repeated his warning that unless public expenditure is cut, the country will face a sovereign debt crisis by 2024, forcing it to seek help from the IMF.

We share these concerns, and trust that his colleagues in government are heeding his warning.

In order to qualify for the release of the Covid-19 relief funds, Treasury will need to present the IMF with a credible fiscal consolidation framework which must show that the country has a plan to stabilise debt over the longer term. The country has entered this crisis on our back-foot, largely as a result of years of looting and plundering of state resources and ill-guided government policies. We look forward to the presentation of such plans.

Lastly, we will be closely studying the financial details contained in the various Bill’s tables today, and as far as possible, exercise due parliamentary oversight over the allocation and expenditure of these additional funds. We require good stewardship and accountability of these funds, much of which must be repaid with interest.”