A group of teachers from private schools in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, protested outside the Gauteng department of education (GDE) offices in the CBD yesterday over the nonpayment of subsidies for months.
The teachers said they have not been paid for five months due to the department’s failure to pay subsidies to four schools. They said they last received salaries in June.
However, in a twist of events, GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said the schools had not received subsidies due to pending investigations. He said the schools – Sinqobile Intermediate, Siyaphambili Secondary, Sikhumbuzo Secondary and Vutomi Secondary – have been placed under administration in October.
“Ordinarily, such schools should be in a position to pay teachers even when subsidies are not paid. These schools have submitted fraudulent annual financial statements. Subsequently, the department has put them under administration. The schools have been given 14 days to make representations on the findings of the audits conducted by the department,” said Mabona.
He said the schools were given 14 days to respond on November 4, which lapsed on November 22. The schools responded on November 24. Mabona said a meeting was scheduled for yesterday to consider their representations so that corrective action can be taken and they were surprised when the management arrived with a group of protesters, but had no further information about the meeting as yet.
The teachers said the past five months have been tough. “We are here to get our subsidies. It has been five months that our subsidies have been closed. We are not getting paid. The children are suffering. We are hungry and there is no money,” said Anita Mqcina, a teacher at Sinqobile Intermediate School.
“They [education department] say there is a problem with papers. We don’t know which papers. Once you get the first and second payment, you should get the third and fourth,” she said.
Sinqobile principal Spiwe Mercy Mehlomakulu said: “We were supposed to be paid in September and November but we never got paid and other private schools got paid. Teachers are closing next week Tuesday and how are they going to feed their families when they were not paid for five months.”
She denied that the school was placed under administration. Shihungasi Khoza, a director of both Vutomi and Sinqobile schools, said: “The department is refusing to release our subsidies and we use the very same subsidy to pay our teachers. We are here until they release our money or else these buildings will not work today. If they don’t do so today, tomorrow we will be back here.”