South Africa

GROUNDUP EASTERN CAPE

Makhanda public schools forced to close due to botched payroll

There have also been delays in delivering stationery to Makhanda schools while many teaching assistants go unpaid. (Illustration: Lisa Nelson)

School governing bodies say the education department failed to deliver stationery and did not pay teaching assistants.

Several public schools in Makhanda were shut down on Wednesday due to the provincial education department’s bungled payroll which has left hundreds, possibly thousands of education assistants and general school assistants unpaid for two months in the Eastern Cape.

There have also been delays in delivering stationery to Makhanda schools.

Ntaba Maria School issued a statement on their Facebook page saying the school governing body (SGB) had shut down the school until further notice: “As of 11am today [Wednesday 16 February], teachers will not be allowed to teach learners at school, and a shutdown will be implemented. This will take place until further notice,” said the school statement.

The school asked parents to fetch their children.

“The school said it was “hopeful the department will swiftly resolve these non-payment issues”.

Chairperson of the SGB Forum iMakhanda Nosgqibo Soxujwa said the provincial department had failed to deliver stationery, nearly four weeks into the school year.

“The [public] education system in the town [Makhanda] is in a state of collapse. Now we are doing it [protesting] two ways — both legally and on the streets,” said Soxujwa.

Two weeks ago, the Azanian People’s Organisation also protested outside the provincial education department offices calling for textbooks and stationery.

Soxujwa said that at Mary Waters High School, NV Cewu Primary, Ntsika High School, George Jacques Primary and DD Siwisa Primary, teaching and general assistants had not been paid for January.

At Good Shepherd Primary, assistants received a reduced amount and were short paid in December. No funds were received in January, and the school had to pay out of its own funds.

At St Mary’s Primary, teaching and general assistants were paid 50% out of school funds for November and December but could not be paid in January.

We understand that at least some of these have been shut down.

Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Mali Mtima said the department is aware of the shutdown.

He said: “We have sent money to the schools and they are going to be paid month-end.”

He said the department was also busy delivering stationery to schools. He blamed the schools for sending stationery requests late.

First published by GroundUp.

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