Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

DBE pays R13.9m to Cuban maths and science specialists

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jul 6, 2021

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has revealed that 19 Cuban maths and science subject specialists brought into the country were paid R13 931 883 in salaries in this financial year.

Motshekga revealed this when responding to parliamentary questions form DA MP Sicelo Mabika, who asked whether her department has concluded any employment agreements with any Cuban entity since 2010-11.

Mabika also asked the details of the Cubans’ employment, including the cost of employing each of the Cubans.

In her written response, Motshekga said South Africa and the Cuba government concluded the agreement on collaboration on professional services in the field of basic education in November 2016, which was valid for five years, from 2017 until 2022.

“The agreement is for the DBE (Department of Basic Education) to employ 20 Cuban subject specialists in maths and science,” she said.

The minister‘s response shows that a total of 86 Cubans, consisting of 32 at national offices and 54 in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Free State, have been brought into the country since 2017.

There are currently 19 Cuban specialists who are improving teacher capacity, among others things, she said.

Motshekga defended the Cubans’ employment, saying they were specialists in maths and science – subjects listed as scarce skills where there was a struggle to find properly qualified teachers.

“The specialists have long-standing practice in how they teach particular methodologies in maths and science that help teachers to master teaching difficult concepts and areas of work.”

She said all the Cuban specialists hold Masters degrees and have also developed materials that were provided to the department to help convey understanding methodologies in the identified scarce skills subjects.

“Since their arrival, they were able to assist the department in identifying some of the problems that the department has experienced in how to teach and what better pedagogical approaches can be explored to overcome these challenges.”

Motshekga revealed that each was paid R733 257 a year.

She said the specialists have been employed to train teachers and strengthen the sector capacity, and not to teach the children.

“They have conducted meaningful workshops for teachers and subject advisers that help them to better understand the concepts so they are able to go back into the classroom to teach the learners based on this assistance,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has revealed that her department was paying R64.6 million to 25 Cubans currently deployed in the country in a co-operation agreement in the field of water resource management.

Sisulu said R34 031 413 was paid in salaries of the engineers and R30 591 587 in operational budget.

She said the Cuban engineers were evaluating operations and maintenance of water infrastructure within clusters and area offices in different provinces.

They also evaluate infrastructure assets of the department, including dams, bulk water infrastructure, irrigation canals and pump stations.

“The deployment of Cuban nationals will not negatively affect jobs which could be offered to South Africans. There are job opportunities in the same fields which are still offered to suitably qualified South Africans, including through the graduate programme being implemented by the Department of Water Services,” Sisulu said.

Independent Media recently reported that the Health Department is spending R83m a year on the 119 Cuban medical brigades who have been in the country since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Political Bureau

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