The Department of Basic Education’s plan to recruit 300 000 young people has been welcomed by education stakeholders. The department will be recruiting youth between the ages of 24 and 35 to be Education Assistants and others to work as janitors, cleaners and caretakers.

They will be given a stipend of R3500. However, teacher unions are still concerned that additional teachers have not been employed except in Gauteng.

The Department of Basic Education has recently clinched R7 billion from Treasury and among other things it will be employing young people between the ages of 24 and 35.

Two hundred thousand young people will be teacher assistants while one-hundred-thousand will help with other functions such as cleaning. Minister Angie Motshekga says they will be training the new recruits 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.”

The recruits are expected to help schools manage the spread of Covid-19 and while teacher unions had asked for more teachers, they are happy about this move.

Natu president Allan Thompson says this will reduce the work overload for teachers. However, he says it does not solve the bigger problem in education.

“The national teachers union is however not convinced that the creation of 300 thousand 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.”

Plans by the department to hire more teachers were abandoned when it emerged that provinces did not have money to pay them. Only provinces such as Gauteng reported that they were recruiting teachers on their database as they had a budget to do so.

President of teacher union Naptosa Basil Manuel says it might be a short-term opportunity but it might lure young people into teaching.

“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. If they are teaching assistants alternatively, if they are not there is a little opportunity to work in schools. We had asked for more teachers, this hasn’t happened.”

The minister also announced that she will be giving R2 billion to former Model C schools and government subsidised independent schools. These schools had to let go of thousands of their teachers as they could not longer pay them when parents stopped paying for school fees.

The minister has also put in a separate application to Treasury to bail out independent schools as many risk closing down.