The Basic Education Employment Employment Initiative has been hailed as the biggest public employment programme in the country. The Basic Education Department Deputy Director General discusses how far the programme has come as well as its current state.
Head of Project Management in the Presidency, Rudi Dicks says that the Basic Education Employment Employment Initiative has been the biggest public employment programme in the country.
The programme employed approximately 300 000 young people between 31 April and December 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the economy.
“Every single community was affected, 320 000 young people were brought into the system. The DBE programme is the flagship, it is one of the most important programmes and one of the largest,”.
The programme is part of the government’s job stimulus package, which has so far resulted in at least 580 000 new job opportunities, stable jobs, and sustained livelihoods.
The Basic Education Department’s Director-General, Paddy Padayachee said that the first phase of the programme was purposely youth-driven.
He further stated that in assisting the youth the department is looking to contribute to financially enabling families that have lost income.
He adds that, although the pandemic accelerated the process, this is an important intervention as the future rests in the hands of the country’s youth.
“There were minimum qualifications required but for the general assistants, we have relaxed that as well. We also insisted that the youth [within a 5km locality of a school] have to be employed so other people from other cities cannot be employed and this also eliminated the transport costs. There also needed to be some kind of verification of how the selection was done,”
He also explained that the department has made the programme more accessible with the intention of further doing so in the second phase.
A beneficiary of the programme, Jordon Rooi, said the programme came to his aid when he had lost his job in Saudi Arabia and was forced to come back home with no plan on how he would earn money.
“I was at home, it was a strict lockdown, with no job. The programme was a blessing in disguise. I got the opportunity and it was amazing.”
280 000 more young people have been recruited for the second phase of the initiative and began working on 1 November 2021.