The Ministry of Education and Skills Development is struggling to settle a P17million debt owed to teachers for working outside the stipulated working hours between November 2012 and April 2013.
The information was revealed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Permanent Secretary who noted that her ministry does not have enough funds to pay the teachers their dues and is now considering paying them 50 percent in money and 50 percent as days off.
The committee expressed worry at the implication of giving teachers days off to compensate for the overtime worked. “Giving a teacher days off will mean students are left alone without learning and that can only spell disaster when results come out,” noted Kentse Rammidi-a member of the PAC.
Most of the overtime work is done during sport training and in remedial classes.
Muzila said her ministry has considered using volunteers in remedial lessons as they are a yearlong and amount to a high percentage of the overtime money.
But the committee expressed worry that having different volunteers coming to do remedial lessons with students may not be as effective as done by teachers that learners are used to because the new volunteers might not understand children who need special attention.
Following the adoption of the Public Service Act in 2008, the working hours for teachers were changed to 8 hours a day just like any other public service officer-something which has caused confusion and misunderstandings between teachers and the ministry. Despite saying they are struggling to pay the overtime bill, the ministry has returned P1billion unspent to the government coffers from their total recurrent budget.