Thousands of education assistants not paid
Cape Town - Thousands of education assistants were not paid in December and are anxiously waiting on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to pay them their monthly stipends.
Last year, the DBE went on a recruitment drive to place 300 000 education assistants in 26 000 schools across the country. It was reported that they would earn a monthly stipend of R3 500 on a contract basis, from December 1, 2020 to March 31.
However, thousands of them are still awaiting payment, which was expected to be made on December 22.
The chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, confirmed that some general and education assistants were not paid their stipends in December.
Mbinqo-Gigaba said the DBE had informed the committee, as money transfers to schools had occurred after some had closed for the year. However, she said all payments should be up to date by the end of this week.
Educators Union of SA (Eusa) provincial chairperson André de Bruyn said the DBE was acting unethically, adding that it was hard not to see the DBE as a manipulative and abusive employer which did not have the best interests of their employees at heart.
De Bruyn called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the provincial counterparts to urgently effect payments and to ease the burden of anxiety for thousands of education assistants who had not received their stipends.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department was working with provincial education departments to ensure that all qualifying education assistants and general school assistants employed in December, and who had submitted all the required documents, were paid this month.
Mhlanga said some provincial education departments had experienced challenges in processing the December stipends, due in part, in some instances, to incomplete paperwork, which had to be returned to the affected schools to be rectified.
He said this had happened at a time when schools were busy dealing with the administration of end of-year exams and preparations for the 2021 academic year.
"Provincial education departments are aware of the non-payment of some of the December stipends and are working with education districts to ensure that all necessary requirements are met, in order for everyone who qualifies to receive their payments," said Mhlanga.
Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the WCED has paid its education assistants. However, there were some isolated cases where paperwork was not completed by the school. They expected some cases to be resolved this week when schools open.
Mhlanga said the DBE was working with provincial education departments to implement the presidential employment stimulus through the basic education employment initiative.
He said the initiative aimed to create temporary employment opportunities for 300 000 people between the ages of 18 and 35. Of those, 200 000 would be education assistants and 100 000 would be general school assistants.