The DA wants the courts to force government to scrap the system of schools operating on a rotational basis where pupils attend class every other day or every other week. It believes the policy is unconstitutional, saying it violates children’s right to basic education. The system was implemented in 2020 after the country went into lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The long-term effects on children will be lower educational attainment, lower earnings, higher unemployment, and being more likely to be in lower skilled occupations in adulthood,” says DA leader John Steenhuisen. “The South African Paediatric Association has warned that denying children access to school results in poorer mental health, increased behavioural and developmental concerns, lack of access to play and social opportunities, increased isolation, academic impacts, child abuse, and neglect.”

“It further warns of the effects on parents, being poorer parent mental health, competing demands and increased stress, job losses and reduced family income.

Steenhuisen says children’s safety cannot be used as a justification of the social distancing rule.

“Government is choosing to sacrifice those least able to defend their own interest.”Depriving children of their constitutional right to education will surely go down as the worst and most harmful of all the irrational rules Ramaphosa’s administration has imposed on South Africa during this pandemic.”

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