Electricity problems blamed for nonpayment of teaching assistants

Dozens of Nelson Mandela Bay teaching assistants have not been paid for two months
NO PAY: Dozens of Nelson Mandela Bay teaching assistants have not been paid for two months
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/ 123rf.com

Dozens of Nelson Mandela Bay teaching assistants are up in arms after they were left in the lurch without salary payments for two months.

The assistants, employed by the education department under the national presidential youth employment initiative, said they were waiting for their November and December salaries.

While their contracts with the department initially started in February 2023 and ended in September, it was extended for November and December for certain categories.

The provincial education department attributed the non-payment of the two monthly stipends of R4,040 each, for a total of  R8,080 per assistant, to power outages.

The about 100 affected assistants placed at various primary schools including Elundini, Seyisi, Lamani, Elufefeni, Charles Duna, Enkwenkwezini Public, BJ Mnyanda and Ikhwezelihle among others, assisted the teachers with marking, sports activities and lesson plans, among other tasks.

One of the assistants, who declined to be named, said she was in financial turmoil as she had been depending on the money.

“It was a very dark Christmas, we were so hopeful to also get our payments on December 27 because the majority of the assistants got paid on the 27th,” she said.

“They never briefed us as to what will happen to us and so we had to beg for clarity.

“Everything went smoothly between February and September, it’s only November and December we were not paid for.”

She said the department grouped them into two categories, reading champions and curriculum.

The reading champions were responsible for conducting reading and spelling lessons to ensure fluency and make reading fashionable.

Those in the curriculum category, assisted teacher mentors and would sometimes teach when a teacher was absent.

“We worked hard, and now we’re not getting paid a cent for those two months,” the assistant said.

Another woman, who also did not want to be named, said she was on the brink of poverty.

“Some of us are the only ones working in our homes, some of us are single parents and some are parents to their orphaned siblings,” she said.

“Some of us have children needing school uniforms and stationery and to get what our babies need we had to make debt.

“We are in major debt and still it seems like we will go into another month still in debt and interest is rising.

“The biggest problem is that the representatives of the department do not communicate, they constantly ignore us.”

Another assistant said he had to borrow money from family members.

“To keep my head above water, I had to ask relatives for money and now I can’t pay them back,” he said.

“This wouldn’t have been necessary if the department paid us on time.”

Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the department was aware of the issue.

“It has been difficult to capture these people for payment due to electricity problems, but fortunate for us, the matter of payment was handled by the provincial office, which has now sanctioned to capture it at Algoa,” Mtima said.

“We are able then to pay them by the end of this week, Monday they will have their money in their accounts.”



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