Former teacher assistants doubt their employment after matric exams brought forward

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"Getting paid has been an issue since we started in January. We have not received our first pay until March." Photo: Getty Images
"Getting paid has been an issue since we started in January. We have not received our first pay until March." Photo: Getty Images

Former teacher assistants have been wondering when applications for new teacher assistants and general assistants will open, since their contracts ended earlier this year.

More than 300 000 teacher assistants and general assistants were employed under the Presidential Youth Employment Stimulus programme last December, but their contracts ended in April this year.

The Department of Education (DBE) spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said he was humbled by the work ethic, commitment, drive and collaboration of the schools and the assistants involved in this initiative.

He told News24, "We have, however, begun discussions with the firm premise that the initiative should continue to be funded to continue the high level of support the assistants continue to offer to our schools."

The matric examinations have now been rescheduled to start four days earlier, beginning on 27 October 2021.

Now former teacher assistants, who may have been relying on this income, are concerned that phase two of this initiative may not happen this year, considering that there is only one month before the exams and there is still no communication about phase two starting.

Read: 'The Educator Assistant Initiative was supposed to bring us financial freedom, yet it's brought us more depression'

Parent24 spoke to former teacher assistants to learn what they think about this issue. 

"If they wanted the program to resume, they would have done that a few months ago now they're just playing hide and seek, and during that time, the clock is ticking," said former Teacher Assistant Malaika*. 

While another former teacher assistant, Tshabalala, shared, "They started saying soon, then the MEC said we will be told immediately. The minister said there would be training for EAs. Now, rumour has it that there are people who are being trained". 

Don't miss: Teacher assistants are not happy about DBE non-payment

He also said, "How can the government take 300 000 youth out of jobs, and when we apply for UIF and SASSA, we don't get them. They know very well that we are struggling."

He asked, "Seeing the level of youth unemployed why don't they make the programme permanent?"

We also reached out to the Department of Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, via email to get his comment on this issue.

He briefly told us, "Phase 2 has been confirmed. We work daily to finalise the plans so we can commence with the project."

He reassured us that "Details will come once all systems are in place. It's a matter of weeks."

*Names have been changed. 

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