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Unions Raise Concerns About R7bn Funding For DBE

 The Department of Basic Education recently secured R7 billion funding to hire more than 200,000 education assistants. Now, unions and stakeholders have shared their thoughts about the department's plans. 

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Unions have welcomed the decision to employ teaching assistants. However, they have raised some concerns about what this short term solution will mean for South African schools in the long-run.

Minister Angie Motshekga said the department will start recruiting and training potential assistants soon.

“We are going to start them now, we are going to train them, it’s going to take a long time to train them due to the system."

"We hope to screen them now because we don’t want anybody to come into the system carefully we have to find people who are really interested in teaching we have to look at unemployed teachers and see if we re-skill them so we will take them in this year and train them in preparation  for 2021.”

President of Naptosa, Basil Manuel said this would be an opportunity to employ young people most affected by unemployment. 

“Whilst it is a short employment opportunity of four months but for a large number of people and at least it will assist our younger people in deciding, do I want to be a teacher for example.

Natu president Allan Thompson said although the assistants would help reduce the workload that teachers have to deal with, employing the assistants would not solve the bigger problems in the education system. 

“The national teachers union is however not convinced that the creation of 300 000 positions is going to solve the problems the teachers are faced with"

"Yes the creation of the positions will be able to arrest COVID-19 problems but not problems that teachers are faced with. Teachers are faced with the problem of being overworked because the schools have a shortage of teachers.”

According to a presentation the department gave to unions, a total of R4.47 billion will be used to pay the assistants. They will receive a stipend of R3 500 per month with 1% of their stipend being used to contribute to the UIF.

The assistants will have many duties such as supporting teachers, helping with the distribution of teaching materials and helping learners with after school activities such as sports and cultural activities.

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