Ricochet News

CETA sets record straight following students' protest

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 22, 2018
CETA sets record straight following students' protest

The Construction Education Training Authority (CETA) on Thursday issued a statement in relation to an article published by RNEWS concerning a recent strike by students at the Eastcape Training Centre (ETC) in Port Elizabeth.

The students had decided to strike alleging that they had not been paid for their December training.

According to the CETA, the students concerned are on a Construction Health and Safety Learnership hosted by Eastcape Training Centre.

"The learnership is accredited with the Construction Education Training Authority (CETA) and leads to a qualification registered by the South African Qualifications Authority, related to an occupation. CETA funds the learnership in terms of the Skills Development Act (1998)," explained the CETA's Robert Semenya.

"The funding provided by the CETA, includes learner stipends.

"Learner stipends are paid monthly to provide learners with financial support for the duration of the learnership which, in this instance, is twelve months."

He said that learners are paid learner stipends subject to their training attendance record.

"Learners’ attendance is recorded in an attendance register that is completed daily. Learners do not qualify for learner stipends on the days that they are absent from training," Semenya described.

"The learner stipend is R1 500 per month, which equates to R69.22 per training day. In the event that learners are absent on some days, proportionate deductions are made from the monthly stipend (i.e. in the event that a learner is absent for 3 days, a deduction of R207.66 will be made from the monthly stipend)."

He further said that the learner stipends are paid by CETA to the employer, being the entity that provides the learner with the practical work experience specified as part of the learnership, in this instance Eastern Cape Master Builder Association (ECMBA).

"The employer, in turn, pays the learner stipends to the learners after the learners’ entitlement to stipends are confirmed through verification of the learners’ attendance. The verification of learner attendance involves a six step process: first, the completion of daily attendance registers; second, the submission of attendance registers to the CETA for assessment; third, confirmation of the assessment by ECMBA; fourth, preparation and submission of an invoice by ECMBA to CETA; fifth, payment of the invoice by CETA to ECMBA; sixth, payment of the learner stipends by ECMBA to learners," Semenya explained.

"This process usually takes about 15 days, resulting in the CETA paying learner stipends to the employer (ECMBA) around the 15th of each month. For example – learner stipends in respect of June would be paid to learners on or about the 15th of July."

He added that in line with CETA policy, an exception is made in respect of the early payment of learner stipends for December, allowing the payments of these statement to be made during the month (as opposed to in the following month).

"The exception is made to accommodate the year-end holiday period during which the CETA and many of its stakeholders are closed."

Semenya said that the process for the payment of learner stipends is designed to ensure the level of financial control required by the Public Finance Management Act.

Responding to the article, he said that it is a false allegation that the CETA has not paid the students for receiving training in November and December last year.

"This allegation is false as the CETA paid learner stipends for November 2017 and December 2017 on 11 December and 12 December 2017 respectively," Semenya said.

One of the student leaders, Zanele Yoyo, told RNEWS that her stipend had been deducted without an explanation.

"It is alleged that CETA has made unjustified deductions from learner stipends for November 2017. The allegation is false," Semenya said.

"The CETA made full payment of all learner stipends in respect of November 2017. The stipend for November 2017 was not for a full month as the learnership program only started on 7 November 2017."

He added that the CETA has been assured by ECMBA that all learner stipends paid by the CETA have been transferred to the learners.

"CETA will, however, conduct an audit to verify that this is the case."

He said that the CETA has also noted the comments attributed to the ECMBA representative.

"ECMBA has denied some of the comments attributed to their representative. CETA, however, wish to clarify and reiterate the following: ECMBA and ETC are not in a position to terminate the learnership of any learner. Learner contracts are concluded between CETA and learners, and can only be terminated by one of these parties. CETA regards threats of expulsion directed at learners by third parties in a serious light," Semenya explained.

"Learner stipends are not a privilege. In fact, stipends play a crucial role in enabling learners to sustain themselves whilst they acquire skills through CETA accredited learnerships."

He emphasized that the CETA is responsive to learner needs and makes available representatives to meet with its stakeholders on a regular basis.

"CETA has engaged with ECMBA regarding the contents of the article and will continue to do so."