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education blackboard thumb medium80 92Mail & Guardian reports that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is undertaking a major effort to improve literacy and numeracy in three of the country’s most rural provinces.  

Over the next three years, it will employ about 700 assistant teachers, who will be placed at primary schools in select areas.  The treasury has allocated an initial R29.2-million to the rural education assistant project, which will be increased to R58.3-million in the next two years, DBE Minister Angie Motshekga said in her budget speech last week.  Pilot projects will be run in the Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo coastal districts of the Eastern Cape, in the iLembe and Umzinyathi districts in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Sekhukhune and Mopani districts in Limpopo.  The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has welcomed the move, saying the employment of assistants will take a huge load off teachers and will allow them to focus on teaching.  But, Basil Manuel of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said that, while the project might be a good idea, his organisation remained sceptical about it.  He said the department, by bringing in assistant teachers, was recognising what the unions had been saying all along — that the classes were too large.  The teacher unions have repeatedly called for more teachers to be hired, particularly in the three provinces concerned.  The project will run from this year until 2021.


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