Thousands of Education Assistants (EAs) have gone without pay for the month of December and are anxiously awaiting information from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) regarding the payment of their monthly stipend.
Last year, the DBE was on a recruitment drive to place 300 000 EAs in 26 000 schools across the country. It was reported that the EAs would earn a monthly stipend of R3500 on a contract basis, from 1 Dec 2020 to 31 March 2021.
Reasons cited by the Department for causing the delay were Personnel and Salary System (PERSAL) cycle concerns. However, this is inexcusable. Dates of payments for stipends must be honoured with contract workers, as a matter of principle.
Thousands of EAs are still awaiting their payment, which was expected to be made on 22 December 2020. We are a few weeks away from reopening schools, and yet EAs – who work tirelessly in assisting teachers to the best of their abilities – have no idea when they are getting their stipends.
It appears that what is happening with the clearing of payments of EAs is similar to what happened to the beneficiaries of the Social Relief of Distress Grants earlier last year.
We cannot allow this programme to fail.
As promised in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Recovery Rescue Plan, this employment drive, which is meant to boost the economy and to ease unemployment figures in our country, is essential.
EAs will play a pivotal role in ensuring that schooling continues uninterrupted as we manage the second wave in the spread of Covid-19.
The IFP calls on DBE Minister, Angie Motshekga, and all her provincial counterparts – specifically MECs for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga – to urgently effect payments and to ease the burden of anxiety for thousands of EAs that have not received their stipends.
Siphosethu Ngcobo, MP
IFP Secretary General and Spokesperson on Basic and Higher Education
082 902 4508