Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Education is determined to ensure that pupils in the province are at the top of their class, setting aside more than R17-billion to improve their performance.
Tabling the department's budget at the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday, Education MEC Barbara Creecy said the largest slice of the R22.48 billion budget would go to public primary and secondary schools.
The R17.1-billion will be spent mainly on infrastructure and interventions to improve pupil's performances but will also go towards the salaries of new teachers.
The money will also be used to provide and maintain decent school buildings, support the no-fee policy, and provide nutrition.
Further Education Training (FET) Colleges were also prioritised in the budget.
The MEC said that R919-million would be allocated to FETs in order to address the skills shortage and to improve young adults' access to the working world.
On the other end of the scale, Early Childhood Development programmes will receive a cash injection of R 557-million.
"This is consistent with the need to expand early childhood and Grade R learning opportunities for young children across the province," Creecy added.
One of the immediate priorities of the department was to better the Grade 12 results.
"We have set ourselves a target: 80 percent Grade 12 pass rate by 2014," the MEC said.
She added that the department had identified a number of challenges that needed to be tackled in order to improve the pass rate and new interventions would be applied across the entire system.
"With greater and more focused attention given to the foundation and primary stages of education, the system will produce more learners who are better prepared for Grade 12," Creecy said.
The department also outlined its mathematics, science and technology (MST) strategy, in which it had invested more than R100-million.
Creecy said the strategy was implemented to grow the pool of graduates in these fields.
"Over the medium term, the MST Strategy will provide significant post-school stream of new entrants into the economy, directly and via higher education and training. It will also ensure that the province has a pool of highly competent and highly motivated mathematics, science and technology teachers," she added.
A similar strategy would be implemented to improve literacy results at the cost of R155 million.
In the 2011 academic year the department is expected to open 11 new schools.
Construction on another 17 schools is also expected to start this year.