Northern Cape Education's Head of Department, Moira Marais, gave clarity on the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)'s allegations that screeners and temporary teachers have not been paid for two to three months.
SADTU went on to call this a disruption to livelihoods, and safety at places of teaching and learning in the province
In response, Marais said that they are equally concerned about the current challenges that are faced by temporary teachers, cleaners and screeners adding that stakeholders should consider the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the education sector.
No one has been able to accurately predict the additional pressures to be endured by our schools with regards to the appointment of temporary and substitute teachers as all schools have been affected by the loss of educators through attrition, resignations, illness as well as early retirements, which happens on a day to day basis in the education system.
Marais says that this has enabled their Human Resources department to attend to those who still need to be captured on the department's appointment system in order for their payments to be processed. The department is also said o be working tirelessly to ensure that all due payments are processed and finalized by the end of this month.
On the issue of the payment backlog, she says that the funding process of cleaners and screeners has differed since the beginning of the Covid-19.
Intially there were funds that were allocated from national, we used the education infrastructure grant like all other provinces did in responses to the crisis at the time. That funding window closed and was no long available, after that there was a decision at the national level through the presidential initiative.
"We then had to use the presidential youth initiative to pay for these people until May. After that, provinces had fund themselves from their internal budgets which is what we are now working."
Marais confirmed that all payments will be carried out based on all the outstanding payments owed and the department is targeting the end of September to have finalized the process.
She says that as a result of the current circumstances with the pandemic, the education sector had to face severe budget cuts due to the country's current economic reality.
She added that the appointment function has been centralized in their provincial department of finance to ensure conformity to the Education Department's cost-containment measures that have been decided upon by the national government.