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By Nthabisang Moreosele | Sep 14, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga has gazetted regulations to prohibit ex gratia payments to teachers employed in the public sector.

BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga has gazetted regulations to prohibit ex gratia payments to teachers employed in the public sector.

Top-ups, the extra payments made by more affluent schools to keep qualified teachers, have long been blamed for unequal access to education.

Unions have complained that affluent schools poach able teachers from struggling schools by promising them extra perks.

The new proposals, which are open to public debate, say that teachers can no longer be given private use of vehicles, free accommodation, free telephones or cellphones, free holidays, free groceries or gardening services.

Teachers at these schools often receive free schooling for their children and, if lucky, free use of credit and petrol cards.

The regulations say governing bodies must specify if these extra payments will come from school funds, fundraising money or donations.

They specifically target gratuities, bonuses and payments for hostel supervision.

Schools hardest hit will be those in rural areas that provide free accommodation and schooling to attract teachers to their locales.

If the minister has her way these gratuities will be restricted to pay for particular duties which do not exceed two hours. The gazette also includes a scale of payment which will limit the gift or "payment".

The governing body of the school will have to apply to the department and explain in detail what the teacher is being remunerated for, why and for how long.

The proposals have raised the ire of the DA deputy shadow minister for basic education Donald Smiles, who said the proposals were "madness".

"Top-ups for salaries cost the state nothing, but they help prop up the public education system that the state is responsible for maintaining. It is, quite simply, madness to do away with these.

"The reality of South African education is that bad teachers are paid far more than they should be, but good teachers are paid less," Smiles said.

"Good schools attract more wealthy parents, who are able, in terms of current legislation, to pay higher fees to pay teachers' top-ups to their state salaries."

National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) was cautious, saying the government needed to attract certain categories of teachers.

Naptosa president Ezrah Ramasehla said the government had to consider that only 15percent of maths and science teachers were qualified to teach the subjects. The government had to create favourable conditions to attract and keep those teachers.

Schools have the right to challenge or ask for reasons from the department if their request is denied.


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