W Cape to prioritize teacher shortages, infrastructure

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cape Town – Addressing teacher shortages, the disparities that exist between wealthy and poorer schools, critical school maintenance and repairs to accommodate increased learner numbers will be a top priority for the Western Cape Education Department.

Briefing the provincial Parliament’s standing committee on how they plan to spend their R20.6 billion budget, senior officials said the lion’s share, R15.1 billion or 73.1%, of the budget will be spent on Public Ordinary School Education.

Infrastructure development will receive R1.6 billion, while a further R1.2 billion will go to Public Special School Education.

Early Childhood Development will get R687.5 million of the education pie. Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said her department’s primary objective is to provide quality education to all the learners in the province with a focus on learners in poorer communities.

MEC Schäfer conceded that it was a continuing challenge to try and address the disparities that still exist between schools in wealthier areas and schools in poorer communities.

“Our efforts are made all the more difficult in the face of ever increasing numbers of learners migrating to the Western Cape without the commensurate funding. This is placing a huge strain on our resources both human and physical,” she said.

The MEC added that the department cannot provide for the numbers of learners that are currently enrolled, unless sufficient funding – which is based on updated population statistics and not on the 2011 census - is allocated to the province.

“The money allocated currently does not provide for all the learners that are currently enrolled in the province. This affects our teacher post and how many schools we can build in a year. We have to address the issue of the equitable share formula,” MEC Schäfer stressed.

The MEC highlighted teacher shortages as another concern, but added that the province has been given some additional funding of R52 million for teachers for this coming financial year.

“We’ve unfortunately seen a cut in conditional grants, about R16 million this year and R1.5 billion over the medium term. We have received an additional conditional grant for learners with profound intellectual disabilities, which we welcome,” she said.

School Safety

Turning to school safety, MEC Schäfer said the issue remained a concern and threatens many of the department’s initiatives.

“We are continuously searching for solutions in partnership with other role-players, especially SAPS,” she said.

According to MEC Schäfer, more than 97% of the province’s schools are either no fee schools or have benefitted from fee compensation.

“The national school nutrition programme feeds 473 915 learners with nutritious meals daily at 1 015 targeted primary, special and secondary schools while around 58 000 learners are transported to and from school daily,” she added. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM



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