More children to access Grade R

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pretoria - The number of Gauteng Grade R learners is expected to increase to 92 000 in 2012 as the provincial Education Department plans to establish an additional 700 Grade R sites.

Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy announced on Tuesday during the department's budget for 2011/2012 that R20 million will be used to fund the start-up kits for the 700 new Grade R sites, which include outdoor play equipment, consumables and educational equipment and toys.

"The total allocation for Early Childhood Development is R588.6 million; R504.4 million will be spent on Grade R in public schools and R84.2 million on standardising the provision of pre-Grade R across the province.

"An additional 269 pre-fabricated and brick and mortar classrooms will be delivered to schools where there are no available classrooms for new Grade R classes, this will be done through the infrastructure programme," Creecy announced to Provincial Legislature.

In relieving learners from informal settlements, who rely on scholar transport scheme as they do not have schools, the department will be spending R1.5 billion on school infrastructure in 2011/12 of which R528 million will be spent on major rehabilitation and R58.3 million will be spent on minor maintenance and day-to-day emergency repairs.

"For the first time ever, the department is approaching the major and preventative maintenance of schools differently, to ensure that this year the department spends the maintenance budget allocated to us by the Legislature, we are discussing with Department of Infrastructure Development and the Department of Finance on ways to decentralise maintenance to school level. This will include allocating schools with a track record of good financial management a larger maintenance budget to undertake urgent repairs themselves," Creecy said.

In addition, Creecy said the department will establish localised school-based maintenance teams that will be contracted by the schools to undertake the repairs.

She explained that the teams will be under the supervision of a contracted project management team which will support and quality-assure the work done at a school.

"To support this intervention and our infrastructure plan, the department has increased our internal capacity to plan and monitor infrastructure service delivery, this includes a Chief Director and a programme manager for infrastructure."

Subsidies to the value of R1.3 billion will be paid to No-Fee schools, an increase of 18% to accommodate new learners and new no-fee schools and the adjustment of quintile 5 schools.

The department has since extended the no-fee schools to needy schools in Quintile 4 and 5 with a total of 1 237 schools been declared no-fee schools and benefits over 890 000 learners.

To ensure that the performance and quality of education in these schools do not decline, the department is funding all Quintile 5 schools at the national threshold level of Quintile 4 schools at R453 per learner.

Furthermore, the Department has also set aside a further R11 million for this year subsidising school fee exemptions of learners in Fee-Paying schools. This amount will increase in the subsequent years of the MTEF.