Edmund van Vuuren MPL DA Easter Cape Shadow MEC for Education The Democratic Alliance has learnt with much trepidation that 459 Early Childhood Development (Grade R) Practitioners have not received their salaries (Stipends) for April 2013. This information has come to our attention through visits to our Democratic Alliance Head Office, by delegates representing disgruntled Early Childhood Development Practitioners, that some of their colleagues within the Eastern Cape have not received their salaries on the 20th of April. These Early Childhood Development Practitioners have approached the Department of Education on 15 April 2013 to raise their concerns pertaining to the renewal of their one-year contract, which according to them have not been signed as well as the subsequent ramifications it will have on them been paid or not – this non-renewal, according to these practitioners have resulted in them not receiving their stipends on 20 April 2013. These practitioners have also raised concerns of not having received any increments for the last three years, whilst permanent employed educators have received regular annual salary increases. The Democratic Alliance was informed by the Department of Education that some of the Early Childhood Practitioners names were rejected by the system during the appointment process for the next cycle, hence the non-payment of the 459 practitioners. The Democratic Alliance was also informed by the Department of Education that these 459 practitioners will be paid by not later than 20 May 2013. The Democratic Alliance is urgently appealing to the Department of Education to have corrective measures in place in order to prevent this type of humiliation, where non-payment is blamed on systems failures, whilst those that have delivered services, and where these stipends are the only source of income, must now be subjected to a life of beggary. The Democratic Alliance demands that an apology be forwarded to all affected Early Childhood Development practitioners and that an undertaking be given that such mishaps will not surface again in the future. We also demand that an extended 3 year contract, for purposes of effective planning and implementation, be entered into, in order to prevent payment discrepancies, and that these practitioners be required to only sign renewals or further extensions on 31 March 2016. The Democratic Alliance also wishes to encourage practitioners with qualifications lower than NQF Level 6 to upgrade their qualifications to Level 6, which is the equivalent of Matric+3, i.e. REQV 13. On obtaining REQV 13 qualifications they can then applied to be absorbed into a permanent position at their school, with the purpose of teaching in the Foundation Phase. Only educators with a minimum of matric+3 years can be permanently employed by the Department of Education. This Department of Education has once more failed our practitioners who have the invidious tasks of moulding our young ones in their receptive years -these practitioners are contributing to the growth of educational knowledge and the upliftment of educational standards within our schools. The Department of Education must stop blaming systems failures for their shortcomings and must make asserted efforts to deliver efficient and effective services to those that they are financially responsible for.