Education Budget Speech 2009 | Western Cape Education Department

Education Budget Speech 2009


Budget Vote of Western Cape MEC for Education,
Donald Grant

Mr Speaker
Honourable Premier
Fellow Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
The Superintendent General of Education and all senior officials from the Western Cape Education Department
Invited guests from the education community
Ladies and Gentlemen

Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the 2009/10 Budget for the Department of Education.

Four years ago I presented my first budget to the house. The amount allocated for that year was R5.47 billion, which represented 29.21% of the total provincial budget. Today we table a budget of R9.02 billion, which represents 36.2% of the total provincial budget. This increases the education proportion of the provincial budget by a full 7% since 2004, and represents an increase of 60.6% overall in rands. The total education outlay over the period from 2004 to date was R26.96 billion.

I would like to state at the outset that we inherited this budget from the previous ANC administration. Within this context, there is a need for continuity and stability and there cannot, by necessity, be far reaching changes in spending during the coming financial year.

However, our administration, wherever possible, will ensure that funds within this budget will be channeled to new projects and initiatives, to bring it in line with our policies and vision for the department of education.

We are also determined to make sure that every rand spent in this budget is focused on adding value to the classroom environment. We will therefore review, benchmark and measure expenditure to make this a reality. We will also root any potential vested interests that may limit our capacity to improve the teacher - learner interface, wherever they may be.

At its core, our vision entails going back to basics - applying principles of good management and best practice to everything we do, so that we focus on key performance areas, within budget and on time.

We are guided by the values of an open opportunity society for all. Education lies at the heart of this because it provides our youth with the necessary skills to reach their full potential and fulfill their aspirations. It is due to the importance of education to our overarching vision that we dare not fail in our attempt to provide every young person in the Western Cape with a quality education.

Mr Speaker, last week you said in this house that 70% of young people, ages 15-34, remain unemployed.

The fact is that too many of our youth are not being equipped with the necessary skills to meet the challenges they face when they leave school, therefore sidelining them from the job market.

Hampering their chances of gaining employment is the fact that thousands of learners leave school still illiterate and innumerate. In 2007, the WCED found that only 44.8% of Grade 6 learners could perform in literacy at grade 6 level, and only 14% could perform at the same level in mathematics.

How can we expect to grow a pool of skilled scientists, mathematicians, and engineers if we produce learners without even the most basic competencies?

It is therefore our aim to make literacy and numeracy a key priority.

In order to do this, we have to channel funds back to the classroom and the teacher. More resources simply need to get down to that level and all our decisions will be guided by what is in the best interest of the learner.

Mr Speaker, our administration is also very concerned about the impact of the prevailing economic climate on revenue generation and the effect it will have on expenditure in years to come. We therefore have to prepare for a series of possible austerity measures, as we adapt to a new and challenging financial environment.

Put simply, we need to learn to do more with less.

As a result of these considerations, I have already issued a directive that before any administrative post within the WCED is filled, up to and including Chief Director Level, it has to be first approved by myself. Any such application will have to be accompanied by a motivation explaining how this appointment would add value to the classroom and the learner.

We will also be putting an end to any unnecessary expenditure, and have already cut down on spending for events and functions, including the celebrations around this speech today!

Let us move away from spending briefly and look at the current state of education in the Western Cape today.

This administration is as determined to celebrate our successes, as we are about identifying problems and fixing them with determination.

We have much to be proud of and I believe it is important to acknowledge that the Western Cape's education system is the best in the country.

I have already in the last few weeks visited a number of schools that represent some of the best and worst of our system from Schoonspruit Secondary in Malmesbury, to Harry Gwala Secondary in Khayelitsha. I have travelled to a number of districts and have met with numerous of WCED officials, teachers and principals who have impressed me with their dedication and determination to provide quality education.

Two weeks ago I visited the West Coast education district. This district is not only the best in the Western Cape, but has achieved the top results nationwide - making it the best education district in the country.

I could see why.

I found an immediate sense of teamwork between the teachers, principals and district officials. Continuous interaction between them has certainly helped in "ironing out any issues" that have been raised and the districts operations strategy has ensured that resources go where they are meant to go - to the classroom, learner and teacher.

However, while we have much to be proud of, it is clear that there is still a great deal of work to do, because the Province's education system is not yet characterized by the kind of excellence that this government aspires to.

The wrong indicators are going up. Critically important indicators are going down.

While the Western Cape's matric pass rate is higher then other Provinces, the figure is dropping. In 2004 we achieved an 85% pass rate, but this has dropped over the last 5 years to 78.67% in 2008.

The number of under-performing secondary schools in the Western Cape has consistently increased in the last three years. In 2006, 36 schools were classified as under-performing, this rose to 54 in 2007 and 74, today. This is a 37% increase from last year.

There are also a number of other concerns, including safety at our schools. By April, the Safe Schools call centre had already received 239 complaints regarding abuse at schools, and 199 reports of crime.

According to UNESCO, only 17 countries have 30 or more pupils per teacher in secondary school. South Africa is listed in the bottom 10%! The Western Cape is not immune from this problem, as our pupil to teacher ratio in secondary schools also sits below internationally benchmarked levels, at 34,7:1.

The Department is also currently facing millions of rands in outstanding legal claims, many of which are personal injury claims. I have asked for a detailed explanation for this, as it is a clear indicator of a system in distress.

It is within this context that we have identified a number of key education priorities that we would like to tackle head on in the coming financial year and the years to come.

  • Improving school infrastructure and resources;
  • Developing and implementing turn-around strategies for dysfunctional schools;
  • Ensuring quality instruction in the fields of literacy and numeracy;
  • The expansion of early childhood development;
  • Expanding the number of learners in the disciplines of science, technology engineering and mathematics;
  • And, ensuring school safety.

Mr Speaker, It's now time to turn our attention to the budget for 2009/10.

I am very pleased to note that the budget allocated to the Department of Education is the single biggest allocation in the Province. The WCED has been allocated over 10 billion for 2009/10, representing 35.7% of the total provincial budget.

The number and the category of learners are the main cost drivers in the allocation of the education department's budget.

Learners fall into six broad funding categories: Grade R, primary school, secondary school, learners with special education needs (LSEN), FET college learners and learners at adult centers.

Except in the case of Grade R at community sites and adult learning centers, the funding of the educational institutions mainly consists of the allocation of staff and the allocation of norms and standards funding. Grade R at community sites, and adult learning centers, receive "norms and standards" funding payments that are also used to pay teaching and administrative staff.

By far the greatest portion of the budget goes to the primary and secondary public schools, as well as schools for learners with special education needs. In the school system, personnel are equitably allocated in terms of the post provisioning norms according to reported learner numbers, community poverty rankings and subjects offered. Norms and standards funding is allocated according to national poverty quintiles with the poorest quintile receiving up to six times more than the least poor.

Non-conditional, non-earmarked and non-personnel expenditure represents 15,7% of total expenditure for the 2009/10 financial year.

Non-personnel expenditure includes funds for norms and standards funding for public ordinary primary and secondary schools and learner transport schemes as well as for transfer payments to independent schools, public special schools, FET colleges, ABET centers and Grade R in Public Primary.

Capital expenditure has decreased from 4,6% of the expenditure in 2005/06 to 2,4% of the estimated expenditure for 2009/10. This includes provision for infrastructure projects as well as for computers and equipment for the Khanya Project.

The reason for the decrease is due to the funding provided for the accelerated capital infrastructure delivery programme, which was made available in 2005/06 and 2006/07 financial years from the Asset Financing Reserve (AFR), being recouped from the department's budget in future years commencing in 2007/08.

Public ordinary school education continues to be the main focus of the department's funding with an allocation of 81,1% of the budget. This includes primary and secondary school education at public ordinary schools (including infrastructure), district office management and development support to educational institutions, human resource development for institution-based personnel and the National School Nutrition Programme conditional grant. 54,9% of this is allocated to primary schools and 38,4 % to secondary schools.

There has been an increase in the number of teaching posts filled. At the beginning of the 2008 calendar year, there were 31 619 approved teaching posts. In 2009 the additional basket of posts was further expanded by 305 posts - increasing the 31 619 to 31 924, including 890 posts for the FET Colleges. However, as I have mentioned, we still have a long way to go before it significantly improves our teacher-learner ratio, which is critical to the delivery of quality education.

In the MTEF period the Khanya Project will provide, pending financing, 200 additional computer facilities to the outstanding public schools each year, thereby completing the process of providing each public school with at least one computer facility.

Public Schools will receive ICT facilities, computer laboratories, interactive whiteboards, Network Server Upgrades and Data Projector devices. We will also commence with the National Teacher Laptops Initiative. However, our primary concern is to ensure that sufficient allocation is made to ensure that the necessary training is available, as well as to provide the required connectivity and IT support. We will review this to see if it is financially feasible.

There have been some concerns raised about the Dinaledi Schools project. While the project has achieved some success, many schools are yet to benefit from the full value of this programme.

We would like to avoid situations, as in the case of Harry Gwala in Khayelitsha, where teachers are invited to weekend training sessions with the best equipment and facilities, only to return to their schools the following Monday where there isn't even a functional science laboratory.

With everything we do, we need to ensure that the money is getting to the classrooms, and not just to training and equipment with no benefit to the learner.

Included in the 2009/10 Budget are the following conditional grants and earmarked allocations:

The National School Nutrition Programme has been allocated R112,5 million to feed 335 000 learners daily.

Consolidated Infrastructure and Maintenance, including the Provincial Infrastructure Grant will receive R378,7 million.

Routine maintenance has been allocated R73,7 million - up from R52,3 million in 2008. Transfers to all schools amounts to R21 million - up from R20,5. We have also set aside R8,3 million for emergency maintenance, which is an increase on the R7,026 million of last year.

A key priority for this administration is to improve school infrastructure and resources. We will establish a School Infrastructure Fund, carrying out emergency maintenance and repairs to over 100 schools, consolidating our school capital plan in line with new norms and standards.

Last year, seven new schools were completed, and twelve schools are currently under construction. However, we believe plans to address the current backlog are insufficient and will be under review.

The HIV/AIDS Programme will be allocated R14,6 million.

The budget for Early Childhood Development has increased by 37.5% from the previous year to R313,4 million for 2009/10.

The expansion of early childhood education is a key priority of ours, and we plan to launch 30 model Grade R sites and in excess of over 140 new Grade R classrooms in the coming financial year.

R92 million has been provided for teacher development. This, we believe, is insufficient if we are to improve the quality of teaching in class and creative measures will need to be explored if we are to resolve this shortcoming.

Allocations for national priorities are as follows:

To improve resources and conditions for learning, the Quality Improvement, Development, Support and Upliftment Programme has been allocated R129,2 million.

HR Systems and capacity development - R31,1 million, and Systems evaluation - R3,8 million.

R247,1 million has been allocated to the implementation of No-Fee Schools.

Currently, we have 651 no-fee schools in the Province, accommodating approximately 37,6% of all learners.

Textbooks for Grades 10 -12 to support the National Curriculum Statement has been allocated R14,8 million.

And, finally, the expansion of Inclusive Education has been allocated R14,8 million.

Other priority allocations:

In terms of literacy and numeracy, we will embark on programmes to improve teacher training, establish a literacy and numeracy resource hub in each district in the Province, and introduce new multi-media programmes for teachers to use.

An additional focus will be on increasing the number of learners acquiring skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

In the coming year, the department will seek to develop a STEM strategy and action a programme for new Centers of Excellence. We have already met with a number of private-sector role payers and NGO's to discuss how to fund these centers in innovative ways, most specifically by shifting the burden from the public to the private sector, wherever possible.

I am pleased to note that the budget for School Safety goes up from R14.9m to R20,6 million. As one of our key priorities, we will focus on initiatives and partnerships between schools, parents, neighbourhood watches, the police and the community. We will continue to support the Safe Schools Project and will initiate search and seizure programmes in terms of the new legal frameworks to step up anti-drug programmes in our Western Cape schools.

The budget allocation for adult education and skills training is R30,9 million. A further R1.9m comes from our Special Programmes Budget to support skills development for unemployed youth in Khayelitsha, Mitchells' Plain and Beaufort West.

Further Education and training colleges are a critical part of the provincial solution to the skills' gap, therefore, R358 million has been allocated to the colleges in our budget this year.

R544,5 million has been allocated to Public Special School education. There is an urgent need for improved service delivery and accessibility to special schools. However, to accommodate more learners with special needs in mainstream schools, the WCED is establishing units for learners with special needs at identified mainstream schools, which will then become full-service schools. Currently there are 68 units in total.

Mr Speaker, in order to live out our values and priorities, we need to structure schools for performance.

A contributing factor to the non-performance of schools is the morale of teachers and the competence of principals. Lack of vision and accountability of some principals is arguably one of the biggest challenges we face.

We will therefore develop and strengthen performance management systems to ensure that our schools, like the WCED, are held accountable for their performance.

It is imperative that teachers are able to properly convey their subject to their learners; therefore, we will focus on teacher skills and job satisfaction. We will do all that is possible to make the teaching profession more attractive and retain these skills.

We want to open up a communication channel between the department, the learners, teachers, principals and parents, creating a partnership that is committed to creating excellence in our schools, developing an ethos of respect, courtesy, integrity, pride and discipline in each classroom.

New Administration Proposals

We are also going to embark on a number of other initiatives that will reinforce our administration's priorities. Firstly, we will be reviewing and updating the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act of 1997.

The Act has not been subject to any revision in the last 12 years, while the South African Schools Act has been revised eight times during the same period.

Therefore, the Act must be the subject of a clinical review which brings it in line with potential future changes in the education landscape. We need to change the Act to ensure we have the ability to put in place systems of learning which are unique to the Western Cape and the Western Cape's educational challenges.

As part of this legislative process, is the need to review the provisions relating to the establishment of the Education Council.

The provincial government is currently in violation of a statutory requirement that provides for the existence of such a council. If properly constituted, such a Council can play a key advisory role in finding solutions to the myriad challenges facing education in the Western Cape.

We also intend to review the recent restructuring of the WCED. This is not for the sake of change, but to ensure that resources are allocated as far as possible to the teacher/ learner interface in the classroom.

We also need a WCED that is more dynamic, responsive, effective and efficient. We need greater transparency, accountability, and more effective measurement of performance.

Finally, we will also work in conjunction with the Department of the Premier to implement a dashboard system by 31 July for roll-out in the WCED, districts and schools, to further enhance our ability to effectively manage our resources and strengthen accountability.

Concluding remarks:

We realize that meeting our priorities will not be easy. Education is not a "quick-fix", but one needs to start somewhere, and soon.

The challenge is to re-orientate the culture of the WCED to one that serves the learners, teachers and principles.

But, none of what I have said today will be possible if we do not get back to the basics.

Put simply, we need to have our 5T's in order.

  • Time on task
  • Teacher preparedness
  • Ensuring that Textbooks and other materials are available
  • Ensuring equitable access to Technology interventions
  • And, Testing.

All teachers and learners should also adhere to the 3 P's principle - punctual, present and prepared.

With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank the management and staff of the WCED for their part in the preparation of the Budget.

I also want to thank our school principals, the dedicated teachers, staff at all our FET colleges, ABET Centers and ECD sites; all of whom are making a difference in the lives of our learners - both young and old.

To my family, friends and colleagues, thank you for your support during my first five weeks in office.

My best wishes also go out to those learners at Montagu High School who were involved in a bus accident last Wednesday, particularly to Grade-9 learner Adriaan Storms and the driver Elrico Eyberg. I wish you both a speedy recovery.

Finally, to all of you here today, I thank you for the opportunity to present this Budget.

I look forward to engaging with all of you in the coming five years and building on a positive framework with a focus our most important assets - our future - the learner.