Will Government Extend The BEEI Teaching Assistant Jobs Programme?


More than one million employment opportunities were created through the implementation of the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI). The initiatives great success has highlighted the need to it to be extended despite its looming completion.



Covid-19 brought the country's economic activities to a standstill, which affect employment in the country. With already high unemployment rates in the country, South Africa hit record numbers during the pandemic.

To combat this, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI). Now, three years after it was introduced, more than one million job opportunities were created for youth in the country.

With phase four of the initiative set to conclude in September 2023, many have called for the programme to continue as the initiative has played a crucial role in providing job opportunities.

Benefits of the BEEI programme

By the end of the first quarter in 2023, 44.7% of people between 15 and 34 years of age remained outside of employment, education and training. Government has noted that the BEEI has been it's most comprehensive effort yet to address the youth unemployment crisis. It's goal is to transition young people successfully from learning to earning.

They explained:

To this end, the intervention brings together the strengths of numerous government institutions and social partners to deliver more opportunities for young people. The PYEI integrates with other interventions coordinated by the Project Management Office in the Presidency to drive structural reforms and enable job creation.

The programme affords young people an opportunity to be employed at schools around South Africa as education assistants and general school assistants. To qualify as an Education Assistant, you must have passed matric English, while an NQF Level 4, 6 and 7 qualification certificate, will be an added advantage.

However, for placement as a General School Assistant, a matric certificate is not required for Infrastructure Support and Sports and Enrichment Agents, although Trade certificates will be an added advantage.

These roles include Curriculum Assistants, Reading Champions, E-Cadres, Care and Support Assistants, Sports and Enrichment Assistants, and Handymen/Women. These youth were paid a monthly stipend of R4,081.44, aligning with South Africa’s minimum wage.

While the programme's main focus is to combat youth unemployment, the DBE introduced several additional programmes that aimed to ensure BEEI participants receive both soft and hard skills required to succeed in the South African workforce. 

These compulsory training courses aimed to equip BEEI participants with skills relevant to the South African job market, including digital literacy, privacy protection, fact-checking, and advocating for change. Microsoft Office, cybersecurity, and digital technology were also offered at no cost to the participants. 

The DBE also facilitated The PYEI-BEEI entrepreneurial Training which gave youth information on learning, earning and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Great Support For Teachers

Since its inception in 2022, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has created over one million employment opportunities for unemployed youth, who are 18 – 35 years old across its four phases.

Through the programme, more than 220 000 jobs were created for the youth in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng (170 000 jobs), and in the KZN Province (260 000 jobs).

In addition to creating jobs for unemployed youth, one of the main purposes of the programme is to provide support to schools and educators in respect of teaching and learning.

Brigit Hannah, Innovation Director at the DG Murray Trust believes the BEEI had a positive impact on the country’s education sector while at the same time working to combat youth unemployment. 

If one looks at both our youth unemployment, 47% of young people are not in education, employment or training, and we look at our learner outcomes, the incredible opportunity of putting young people in a first work experience, giving them that critical work experience in schools where they are able to support our seriously over burdened teachers, it's just such an incredible opportunity that we’ve already seen bore fruit.

In most cases the classroom ratio is often more than 1:35 and personal attention keeps learners from falling through the cracks of a heavily burdened system. From the onset of the BEEI programme teachers were afforded more time to spend on slow learners.

While these programmes are extremely beneficial for both young people and teachers, the national fiscus is under immense pressure. This means that national and provincial treasuries have to make important decisions on whether to continue funding the programme. 

As Phase 4 draws to a close on 31 September 2023, the department has said it will continue its efforts to support educators, improve learning outcomes, and explore new avenues for youth employment and development.

Phase 4 is however the final phase of the initiative with no word or plans to extend it have been announced yet. 

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