23/12/2021 - Fedsas
Unemployed young people and public schools are the victims of provincial education departments’ dismal management of the Basic Education Employment Initiative. Thousands of young people who are to benefit from the BEEI as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential employment initiative are still waiting for their money because of the administrative incompetence of a number of provincial education departments. These departments, first Limpopo and now the Eastern Cape, are forcing school principals to disobey the law in an effort to get payments through.
“This is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with young people on both sides being the victims. It is difficult to believe the government when it says that it wants to provide a prosperous future for young people. Already severely underfunded schools are now forced to pay so that the government can keep its promise of temporary employment to young school leavers, thus placing the future of the next generation of school leavers under pressure. It is exacerbating a vicious cycle of unemployment and poverty,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS).
In a media statement, the Eastern Cape Education Department says it is “taking a huge risk in by authorising schools to process payments” but does not acknowledge the even bigger risk these schools are taking. “The Schools’ Act does not allow schools to extend loans. Public schools are separate legal entities and the Schools’ Act empowers governing bodies to make certain payments. The SGB may not authorise any other payments, especially if these payments were not budgeted for.”
Deacon says just as in Limpopo, Eastern Cape principals are in an untenable situation. “If they do not pay the state’s temporary workers, they are ignoring a direct instruction of their employer; if they do pay the temporary workers, they are disobeying the law.”
FEDSAS has commented extensively on the poor management of this programme throughout the year. “The organisation has provided the National Department of Basic Education with detailed suggestions to manage this project and how to improve the implementation framework to fix the numerous legal discrepancies and mistakes,” says Deacon.
Deacon says FEDSAS shares the frustration of the young people who are waiting for their payment as well as the young people who will have to tackle their new school year without textbooks and stationary in school buildings without water and electricity. “The common denominator remains the incompetence of provincial government officials.”
FEDSAS again calls on President Ramaphosa and Minister Angie Motshekga take notice of these developments, and act accordingly.