The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI), implemented as the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) across all nine provinces has succeeded in the reduction of youth unemployment in the country. The programme has an added value in stimulating the economy of South Africa. In the context of the Basic Education Sector, the initiative has assisted in ensuring that teachers were supported in the classrooms by way of maintaining discipline and preparing classes for lessons. The R4.5 billion initiative was planned for a four months contract and was officially implemented from 1 December 2020 to 30 March 2021. It was extended for one month, which stretched it to 30 April 2021. The initiative saw more than 320 000 young men and women securing job opportunities in +/- 23 000 public schools. The youth placed in the initiative were appointed as Education Assistants (EAs) and General School Assistants (GSAs) and they provided support before school starts, during school time and after school.
The EAs were expected to provide support in classroom preparation before lessons, support teachers in the classroom during lessons and manage learners after lessons. According to the Department of Basic Education, the EAs have been trained to work with teachers in Home Languages (HL), First Additional Language (FAL), Mathematics and BCM subjects. The EAs made a significant contribution in helping teachers to address the identifiable learning gaps in various grades. A considerable amount of teaching and learning time was lost in the previous grades in 2020, due to the lockdown and learners attending school on a rotational basis to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. Consideration was also made for the transition grades because as learners move from one phase to the other new subjects are phased in, for example, a switch from HL teaching to English is always critical. The main area of focus for the FET Phase included HL, FAL and gateway subjects such as Geography, History, BCM Subjects, Life Science, Physical Science and Mathematics. The high enrolment subjects were targeted as they are gateway subjects to entry into higher education and training.
The GSAs were assisting with learner screening and sanitizing in the morning before school starts and during school hours. The other GSA were placed as eCadres, they assisted teacher in integrating ICT in classrooms as well as assisted in the admin of SASAMS.
According to the testimonies or feedback received from various implementing schools, the EAs have assisted teachers in reducing the administrative workload. The GSAs were always hands-on in terms of screening learners, ensuring that they maintained social distancing whilst ensuring that classrooms were sanitised and ready for lessons. They also assisted in keeping school premises clean and doing maintenance work. The DBE would like to thank all the officials from National and Provincial level as well as partners that participated and contributed to the excellent, diligent and sterling work done in pulling this initiative through. It's through this integrative and collaborative work that a project of this magnitude was implemented with such precision.