Thousands Of Education Assistants Still Await Payment

The Department of Basic Education recruited around 300 000 South African youths as education assistants. Now, many have said that they still haven't received payment. Various questions are now being raised when it comes to this initiative.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) recruited around 300 000 South African youths as education assistants. Now, many have said that they still haven't received payment. Now, the department has said that salaries will be received this week.

National Treasury is said to not have made funds available to the provinces yet. 

The assistants hired have also said that they have heard nothing when it comes to when they would be getting paid. One such assistant said:

We knew that on the 22nd of December was going to be our paydates of which it didn't happen and our prinicipal was kind enough to update us that the department has communicated that as soon as the money is available, they will send it to the schools and the schools will be able to pay us immediately.

This was what they were told December of last year and they have since not heard anything else. 

The Department has promised that assistants should start seeing their salaries arriving this week. They will receive double pay for December and January.

Enock Vusi Nzama, Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, said that they started the process of verifying information in December and were able to pay the first group at the beginning of January. 20 000 assistants have been paid and 50 000 ID numbers are now being verified.

She continued to say, "We've been waiting and we're not even sure if the January salary will be received or not".

During a press conference last week, the Department also took the time to answer some questions raised about this issue. 

The funds being used to pay the assistants has been sent to the provinces with all but Eastern Cape choosing to transfer the funds to schools. 

Eastern Cape paid assistants directly.

In response to speculation that the assistants were not vetted and checked against the sexual offenders' registry, the Department emphasised that of course they went through these processes as it forms part of the Child's Act and is important. 

We need to know who we are exposing the children to because there are lots of challenges that our country is facing ... We don't want somebody who has a record in that area to be exposed to children at schools ... That process needs to take it's time so that we can ensure the safety of children at schools.

As part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, DBE made 300 000 vacancies available. 200 000 of these were for Education Assistants and 100 000 for General School Assistants.These opportunities were open to those aged 18 to 35. 

Government spent R5 billion on this initiative.

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