Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said the appointment of 330 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) non-teaching staff at 209 schools across Nelson Mandela Bay will help stabilise schools in the municipality.
The move, the Deputy Minister said, will also alleviate poverty and unemployment in the metro.
Deputy Minister Cronin launched the EPWP Metro-wide Schools Ambassadors Programme at Helevale Recreational
Centre in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
The programme is an initiative of the Department of Public Works, Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape Department of Education, as well as the Independent Development Trust (IDT).
“The participants will be responsible for a range of duties at schools, including providing general maintenance work, cleaning, providing security and general administration work.
“The programme is critical as it will ensure that teachers no longer have to perform administrative work that takes them away from their core teaching duties. It will also ensure that the process of learning and teaching occurs in a safer environment,” Deputy Minister Cronin said.
He said government will work hard to ensure that the programme is sustainable.
“We want to run this programme in an efficient and sustainable manner.”
In recent years, some schools in Nelson Mandela Bay have been plagued by problems of gang violence, drugs, vandalism and shortage of staff, particularly non-teaching staff.
Executive Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality, Danny Jordaan, who was also at the launch, said the programme would address two important issues in the municipality – jobs and quality education.
“The EPWP Metro-wide Schools Ambassadors will contribute a lot in the provision of these two important needs. We are truly happy about the launch of this programme and I congratulate all the participants who have been appointed to this programme,” Mayor Jordaan said.
The participants will receive theory, practical and experiential learning while serving in the programme. It is envisaged that some of the participants will be empowered with skills to pursue employment in the open job market or pursue self-employment.
Speaking on behalf of the participants, Kenneth Mlungiseleli said they are grateful for the opportunities.
“The wages we are receiving through this programme help us to look after our loved ones. EPWP has removed us from the streets and gave us opportunities to work.
“Today our families no longer go to bed hungry. Others may see our wages as being little but to us, the wages give us life. We truly thank the government for EPWP,” he said.