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90 ECape schools wins R81m case

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The Grahamstown High Court on Wednesday ordered the education department to reimburse 90 Eastern Cape schools R81 million they had paid for teachers’ salaries out of their own pockets since 2011. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) said the court also ordered the provincial department to fill vacancies and appoint 282 teachers to permanent vacant posts.

According to the order by Judge JM Roberson, the Eastern Cape basic education department’s head of department had 20 days to appoint a chartered accountants to serve as claims administrators to distribute the amounts payable to individual schools.

“The [provincial basic education department head] is directed to ensure that the Eastern Cape department of education pays the amount of R81,445,339.99 to the claims administrators… within 60 days of this order,” the order reads.

The claims administrators had 30 days to verify the claims and disburse payments to schools. After everyone was paid, the claims administrators had 30 days to return any money not required to the department.

In the case heard on December 11, the governing bodies of the respective schools also challenged the national and provincial basic education departments for their failure to adhere to statutory and constitutional obligations to appoint teachers at the schools.

“Over the past few years, the DBE have declared that individual schools are entitled to certain numbers of educators, but have then failed to appoint the necessary number of educators to fill those posts at the schools concerned,” the LRC said.

“This has resulted in schools either paying for educators themselves, through their school fees or special fundraising initiatives, or going without the necessary educators.”

The court ordered the head of the provincial department (HOD) to publish at least four open post bulletins a year, one before the end of April 2015, the second before the end of July 2015, the third before September 2015 and the last before the end of November.

The HOD had to circulate the drafts of the bulletins to the relevant schools within a reasonable time before publishing, so the schools could confirm the information and correct errors.

“It is declared that the [HOD and basic education minister] are legally required to take all necessary steps to fill the vacant posts advertised in the four annual open advertisement bulletins,” the order reads. SAPA

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