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Media Release

24 August, 2007

Western Cape's extra 747 teacher posts will reduce class sizes

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will increase the number of Foundation Phase teachers in the province next year by 364, to reduce class sizes in Grades 1 to 3 - from a learner:teacher ratio of 39:1 to 38:1. We would like to reduce class sizes further, but this is a good start.

The WCED will increase the total number of teaching posts in the Western Cape by 747, from 30,872 in 2007 to 31,619 in 2008. This is the fourth year in a row that the department is increasing the basket of teaching posts in the province.

The 747 posts will include 606 additional posts for public ordinary schools. The remaining 141 posts will be allocated to learners with special needs education (LSEN), and other support functions.

To help meet the objectives of the Human Capital Development Strategy, we recognise the fundamental importance of General Education and Training (GET), especially the Foundation Phase, from Grades R to 3. For this reason, the WCED is allocating 60% of the 606 additional teaching posts for public ordinary schools - a total of 364 posts - to the Foundation Phase.

We have to start at the beginning in our efforts at turning education around, by building a solid foundation in primary school, especially in literacy and numeracy. The additional posts will reduce class sizes in Grades 1 to 7 to below 38:1 on average, compared to 39,5 in 2007.

In addition, we deploy teaching assistants once again in our poorest schools to help Foundation Phase teachers to improve the literacy and numeracy performance of learners in Grades 1 to 3.

The WCED deployed 510 teaching assistants in 2007 to assist Foundation Phase teachers at 163 poor schools. The department did so by converting 100 teaching posts into 510 teaching assistant posts for a pilot teaching assistance programme.

The WCED has allocated the teaching assistant programme its own budget for 2008, so it will not be necessary to use funding for the 100 teaching posts for this purpose. The 100 posts will return to the basket for distribution to schools.

The number of ad hoc posts will remain at 458 in 2008. The WCED will allocate ad hoc posts to schools in poor schools to ensure that learner: teacher ratios are not more than 33:1 in secondary schools and 37,5:1 in primary schools.

The ad hoc posts will enable 27 small, one-person schools to remain open, mainly on farms in remote areas. They will also make it possible to assist combined schools that do not have a fixed establishment of at least six posts for the secondary phase.

The WCED will increase the total number of teachers for learners needing special education support by 109 posts. These posts will include itinerant teachers based at district Education Management and Development Centres (EMDCs), who will travel from school to school to assist learners needing special assistance.

The post basket takes into account an expected dip in enrolment in Grade 8, which reflects a change in enrolment policy in 2000. The post allocation will not penalise schools for a decline in learner numbers in Grade 8 next year.

Available budget, learner numbers and redress are the main factors taken into account when determining the post basket. The WCED will allocate posts to schools that have seen growth, and will reduce posts at schools where enrolment has dropped, in line with national practice.

Learner numbers in ordinary public schools grew by 9,368 in Grades 1 to 12, from 906,242 in 2006 to 915,610 in 2007. Every quintile saw growth, with most growth in the third poorest quintile, of 2,885 learners.

Ron Swartz, the Head of Education in the Western Cape, and senior officials concluded consultations with school governing body associations and teacher unions on the post basket this week.

I welcome the positive response of the teacher unions and appreciate the good spirit in which they have discussed the basket. There are no significant disagreements, and we look forward to a smooth introduction of the post basket next year.

The WCED plans to distribute staff establishments to schools by 10 September 2007, to provide adequate time for schools to plan effectively for 2008.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

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