DA calls on DBE to introduce Employment Initiative when schools are open – not during holidays

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Basic Education Employment Initiative programme by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) which seeks to provide temporary employment to 319 061 people across the country to help teachers with curriculum coverage and learner homework assistance as well as upkeep of the school premises and infrastructure maintenance.

The DA views this as a positive initiative as it will assist teachers and learners and also help with the upkeep of school premises which the majority of our schools are in desperate need of. This employment initiative comes at a time of record unemployment and could potentially provide reprieve for those in need of jobs and skills.

While this programme is a great initiative, the DA would like to caution the DBE on the inception of the programme.

The programme is set to commence in December 2020, during South Africa’s festive season when schools are on holiday with no learning and teaching taking place.

When asked by the DA about the date of inception at a Portfolio Committee meeting this week, the Department justified the December start by saying it will be for “induction and socializing.”

Candidates for this initiative will be better utilised when schools are open.

We, therefore, urge the Department to commence the project mid-January – the week when the teachers and principals are back at school preparing for the return of learners.

The programme allocation stands at R4.47 billion and will last for four months. This means that if the programme starts in December, over R1.1 billion will be paid out despite many of the personnel not actually rendering any service to the Department or schools unless the intention of this programme is fiscal dumping.

We would discourage this act given the budget cuts that the DBE has experienced and the dire need of these services in our schools.

We hope that the Department will heed to the DA’s call for the initiative to commence in January and to be extended beyond four months as provinces are required to identify the candidates, conduct extensive vetting and screening of employees which could be time consuming. And to stop such a project abruptly will make it impossible to evaluate its success.