Teaching assistants want the department to honour their contracts and pay up
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DURBAN - Assistant educators contracted under the Education Employment Initiative (EEI) have accused both the school and the provincial Department of Education of exploitation following short payments for full services and alleged ill-treatment by their school principal.
A primary school in KwaMashu has been hosting seven candidates under the EEI. The initiative provides four month temporary employment to unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 35 not currently in training or studying. Individuals provide support to teachers in the classroom and the school in general and receive a stipend of R3 465.
However, assistants at Shayamoya Primary School who have been at the school since the beginning of November claimed they were not paid for December and January. They said their first payment since the commencement of their contracts was only received in the middle of February and it did not fully cover the previous worked months.
“Instead of receiving R 6 930 for the months of December and January, we only got paid an amount of R4 950. The school principal told us that the reason we got little money is that the department did not pay the correct amount to the schools,” said one assistant.
“We have expressed our dissatisfaction to the principal but there is no communication on the progress. It's now nearly mid-March, our contracts are near the end and we still haven't received the outstanding amount.”
The assistant teachers stated their relationship with the school principal had never been a healthy one from the onset and had further deteriorated as months went on. They accused the principal of giving a contract to an over age, non-qualifying candidate and paying the person with money meant for their pockets.
“The only reason we accepted the incomplete funds is because we do not have any money. We have contacted the KwaMashu circuit and their response was that we need to speak with our principal,’’ said another assistant.
“All we want is to be able to get paid what is due to us as soon as possible because it's hard waking up every day and not being able to even afford toiletries at the end of the month.”
Dr Imran Keeka, DA KZN spokesperson on education, said the manner in which the initiative had been run had “opened the door to nepotism, unqualified people, no vetting against the sexual offences register and of people not meeting the criteria.”
He said if allegations against the school principal of recruiting an unqualified person and paying the person from government funds meant for others were true, severe consequences should follow.
“I have always maintained that the department of education is a cauldron of corruption and it is the alleged misuse of funds and many more examples that support my view. If the principal is found to be guilty, she does not belong in the employ of the department and must also be served with charges for embezzling government funds.”
Kwazi Mthethwa, KZN Department of Education spokesperson, said the department was not in the business of exploitation and many of those in the programme had already received their payments and on time.
He explained if assistants submitted incorrect or incomplete information, delays were unavoidable as their systems required accurate and complete information.
“We note the concerns regarding the assistant educators. The process is being handled at the district level and we are appealing to all assistants to check with the relevant offices for updates because all payments are captured by district offices.”