Education Budget Speech delivered at Provincial Parliament, Cape Town Western Cape Government Education Budget Vote Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer 26 March 2015
Fellow Members of the Provincial Cabinet
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
The Superintendent General of Education and all senior officials from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED)
Invited guests from the education community
Ladies and Gentlemen
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure and privilege to present the 2015/2016 Budget for education in the Western Cape.
I am also pleased to welcome a number of special guests to this important occasion:
- My husband, Mark
- Nasima Badsha - Deputy Chairperson of the Education Council
- James Selfe - Chairperson of the Federal Council for the Democratic Alliance
- Desiree Van Der Walt - DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education
Thank you for joining us today.
I would like to start by taking a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of our Metro East District Director, Melvyn Caroline.
Mr Caroline epitomised what a public servant should be - he was accountable, hard-working and passionate about the people he served.
He has left an impeccable and inspiring record as a teacher, a principal and as a public servant in his 40 years of service to the WCED. He will be dearly missed by WCED staff, his schools, his learners and all of us in the Education Ministry.
Since I was appointed ten months ago, it has been a very challenging, but exciting time, filled with reflection, innovation and development.
From 2009-2014, the Western Cape Government laid the foundation for solid improvements in learner performance and quality within the system. It is a matter of public record that learner performance in language, mathematics and the National Senior Certificate (NSC) improved over this period, the retention rate increased, the number of underperforming schools decreased, administrative systems improved and more schools were replaced or built than ever before.
This, despite major changes in the curriculum with the introduction of the CAPS in 2011, and the ongoing social challenges that this Province and our learners and teachers face.
The reason for such an improvement in the system as a whole was because of a combination of factors - which are set out in our 2009 Strategic Plan, with the overriding objective of providing quality education to all the learners in this province, which is the cornerstone of our vision of an open opportunity society for all.
In the past year, we have continued with this plan. But, as an open and accountable Government, we have been reviewing the objectives we set in 2009. This resulted in the development of our Strategic Plan.
This year, we were also tasked with contributing towards the new and exciting Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) which comprises five Provincial Strategic Goals. The second goal - "Improving education outcomes and opportunities for youth development" - involves the transversal co-operation between a number of Departments including the WCED, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS).
It is also the Provincial Goal that is responsible for two of the eight Game-changers, announced by the Premier in her State of the Province Address, namely that of E-Learning and After school care - otherwise known as Youth with Hope. It also includes a "Living Lab" which aims to provide structured and focused support for improved learning in the Foundation Phase.
These two documents, as well as our Annual Performance Plan and the National Development Plan, have had a large influence on the Budget that I will announce today.
The 2015/16 Budget
Earlier this month, the Provincial Minister of Finance announced that within the MTEF, the WCED would receive over a third of the provincial budget - an investment in education of R17,7billion.
This is an increase of over R1,1 billion from the previous year.
The bulk of the Department's funding is for Public ordinary school education, with an allocation of 72.4 %, which amounts to over R12.8 billion.
This is followed by Infrastructure Development, with an allocation of over R1,4 billion.
This year, we will continue to support the process of transferring Adult Education and Training (AET) and Further Education and Training (FET) from the province to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
The Western Cape will continue to lead the country in the provision of Special Needs Education - 5.9% of the budget is allocated to Special Needs, which amounts to over R1billion, an increase of R13,5 million from last year.
In 2015/16 we have committed ourselves to spending on projects, resources and people that will provide quality education to all the learners in this province.
Today I would like to highlight some of the exciting initiatives that we will be introducing this year which are all directly linked to our three main indicators of success as outlined in our Strategic Plan, namely:
- An improvement in the level of language and mathematics in all schools
- An increase in the number and quality of passes in the National Senior Certificate (NSC), and
- An increase in the quality of education provision in poorer communities.
The importance of the development of language and mathematics skills at an early age cannot be over-emphasized. If a learner does not master these skills appropriate to their age and grade, they will be left behind in their later years, which ultimately results in poor quality results and high drop-out rates.
Therefore, improving language and mathematics in all schools will ultimately result in an increase in the number and quality of passes in the NSC, and undoubtedly a higher retention rate.
Whilst we have seen some progress over the years as a result of sustained effort, there is clearly a need for a more determined and focused plan to improve on these outcomes.
A number of exciting and innovative initiatives have therefore been designed that aim to improve the level of language and mathematics in schools and increase the number of quality passes in the NSC.
- The development of revised, evidence-based mathematics and language strategies
- The introduction of new technologies to assist with the improvement of language and mathematics through e-learning
- Increased parental involvement and participation in their child's education.
- The introduction of a new teacher development plan
- Improved quality of school leadership and management teams
- Increased parental involvement and participation in their child's education.
- Improving the quality of Grade R and the testing of new strategies in the Foundation Phase
- Building an "After school" culture of learning, and
- Increased accountability of all role-players in education.
One of my first requests as Minister for Education in this Province was a review of the Language and Mathematics Strategy.
It was clear that more focus was needed particularly in Grades 1, 8 and 9 and over the past few months this strategy has been reviewed and refined.
Next term the WCED will begin to implement the new strategy in our schools and districts, which will complement the existing District improvement plans.
One of the interventions in the new strategy is the introduction of diagnostic baseline tests for all Gr 8 learners in Language, Mathematics and Science to determine learner gaps and to identify talent.
In addition, this year we are rolling out E-learning into our schools at scale which is one of this Province's Game-changers.
The E-learning programme is intended to assist in a number of areas such as contributing toward teachers' training and professional development and improving management and administration at schools.
It has the potential to greatly improve the level of language and mathematics in schools, as well as to increase the number and quality of passes in the NSC through various programmes. It will also increase access to electronic resources in disadvantaged communities and prepare learners for the ever increasing technology-based economy.
The WCED has invested over R273,9 million in E-learning in the 2015/2016 financial year and over R1.2 billion over a five year period.
This will contribute towards the rollout of the Local Area Networks (LANs), infrastructure, equipment and devices to schools.
This financial year, 366 schools will be connected to the Wide Area Network, 126 computer laboratories will be refreshed and 3 350 smart classrooms will be introduced in 248 schools.
I have seen first-hand what a projector, a lap top and connectivity can do to stimulate the classroom learning, and am particularly excited about the potential of our e-resources catalogue in offering exciting products available for teachers, learners and parents, which can assist both during and after school.
It is critical that teachers and principals who will be benefitting from our E-learning game-changer are orientated and trained in the integrated use of the new technology and are able to incorporate it into the curriculum.
Similarly, it is also important that our teachers are provided with the necessary training courses on various teaching methodologies and innovative techniques for encouraging our learners to read, write and calculate.
This year the WCED will be investing over R81,4 million in Teacher Development and Training, with a focus on ICT, inclusive education training, and improvement in Language and Mathematics teaching strategies with various courses on offer at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute (CTLI).
We have also begun to roll out a comprehensive ICT training programme to educators and principals. This includes basic training on how to ensure that the smart classroom technology is utilised and sustained, and courses on developing skills to produce content for lessons.
We are currently developing a teacher development plan that aims to strengthen pedagogical content knowledge of teachers in all subjects, and that provides in-service training that is focused, relevant and practical. We will also foster links with the universities on pre-service training.
While teacher development is vital to improving language and mathematics outcomes, we also need to ensure that we have quality school leadership and management teams.
This aligns with the NDP statement that 'Schools needs to be well run by skilled and dedicated principals who foster a vibrant but disciplined environment that is conducive to learning.'
The WCED has a number of training initiatives on offer to support and assist existing and aspirant principals and management teams.
This year, there will be an increased emphasis on the appointment of quality principals.
Madam Speaker, it is of concern to me that despite the NDP stating that 'changes should be introduced to the appointment process for principals including administering a competency test for all candidates': the Western Cape remains the only province to do this.
Last year, we piloted the use of Competency Based Assessments for shortlisted candidates for principal posts to ensure that the most suitable candidate is appointed, and that training needs are identified.
This year, the WCED intends to expand Competency Based Assessments for the appointment of Deputy Principals and HoDs. Stakeholder parties will be consulted before the actual implementation of this pilot.
Accountability and professionalism is key and we will continue to monitor the performance of our schools particularly those that achieve less than 70% in the NSC, as well as schools that perform poorly in the annual systemic tests.
But accountability most certainly does not apply only to teachers, principals and officials. One of the key roleplayers, if not the most important, is the parents.
A key element of the NDP 2030 vision for schooling is that 'parents are involved in the schools their children attend.'
While this Government has a major role to play in improving the quality of education in this province, the importance of parental involvement cannot be underestimated. The unfortunate reality is that many of our parents have little interest in their child's education or participation in their schools.
Today, I am appealing for parents to ensure that their child attends school every day, that they take an interest in their child's daily schooling activities and that they encourage their children to read, write and calculate every day.
I have recently appointed the second Education Council of this Province, and have asked them, amongst other things, to specifically look at ways and means to get parents involved in their children's education.
We continue to face ill-discipline in our schools by some learners, teachers and principals. Parents - take responsibility for teaching your children discipline. The school should not have to tolerate the effects of bad discipline at home. Teachers and Principals - you are the adults and leaders in our schools. Please set the right example.
In accordance with our priority of ensuring that our learners read, write and calculate at the appropriate levels, we have, over the last year, been investigating various strategies and best practice from around the world that has garnered success in improving these competencies at an early age.
I am therefore pleased to announce today that over the next four years, the WCED will be running a 100 school "Living Lab" project for Grades R-3. This aims to improve language and mathematics teaching and is based on studies from around the world, many of which are informing our new maths strategy. The aim is to ensure that by the time our learners leave Grade 3, they will be able to read, write and calculate at the required levels.
The main findings and recommendations which are common to these studies are;
- The need for competence testing and careful selection of Foundation Phase Heads of Department.
- The presence and integrated use of various reading materials and Foundation Phase equipment.
- The development and use of Norms for reading, writing and mathematics progress in each quarter of Grades R - 3.
- Assessing teachers' capacity to teach English FAL and providing the necessary training for this.
- Providing qualified and trained maths teachers for dedicated teaching of all Grade 1, 2 and 3 classes.
It is also recommended to provide qualified and trained maths teachers for dedicated teaching of the foundation phase.
We will begin the process of determining the schools that will participate in this Lab, as well as the details thereof over the next few months, following consultation with their respective SGBs. It is envisaged that this will cost R150 million over the MTEF.
This year we will also emphasise improving the quality of learning and teaching in Grade R, early identification of learners who need remedial assistance and the roll-out of Grade R classrooms to schools.
The WCED has built more than 406 classrooms in the last four years. In the next financial year, over R29,1 million will be spent on the building of 82 Grade R classrooms.
We cannot disregard the importance that after-school programmes can have on the outcomes of learners.
Over the past few years, the WCED has rolled out a number of after school tutoring and support programmes to both high and primary school learners to assist in improving their results.
The after-school programme needs to go much further.
This past year, we have been working with DCAS, the DSD and the Department of the Premier, to start developing the After School Game-changer.
We are currently in the design phase and look to pilot this project later this year. It will involve a structured programme that will keep learners off the streets, but engaged in healthy and educational activities, access to technology and reading resources, skills development and career guidance.
Language and Mathematics will be a key focus area in this programme.
The WCED will invest over R59,5 million in school infrastructure at MOD centres in preparation for the rollout of this programme next year.
Redress is important to this government, as we still sit with legacies of apartheid that make people feel excluded, even in our school system.
It was recently brought to my attention during a visit to the Swartland District that during apartheid, schools were generally categorised according to race, with some former HOR and DET schools being called Secondary Schools whilst the Model C Schools were called High Schools.
I believe there was a previous opportunity to change the names, but the fact that it was brought to my attention recently indicates that it is still a matter that requires attention.
As an extension of the City of Cape Town's recently launched Inclusive City initiative, we want to ensure that as a Province, no school should feel that it is defined in any way on the basis of race.
As it is the prerogative of the school to make such an application, today I would like to appeal to any school in the province that feels that the name of their school is still representative of an apartheid South Africa classification system, to now make an application to the WCED to change the name of the school to one that is inclusive.
Our primary objective is to provide quality education to all the learners in this province with a focus on learners in poorer communities.
This is evident in all that we do and will continue to do as seen in this budget.
In 2015/2016 no-fee schools in National Quintiles 1 - 3 will receive the increased amount of R1,116 per learner which will contribute meaningfully to improving resources and the quality of education at these schools.
The WCED will continue to support 216 schools in Quintile 4 that have been declared no-fee schools. We will also continue to compensate schools that serve poor communities by the provision of over R39,3 million in fee compensation.
The NDP states that 'By 2030, feeding schemes in schools should cover all children in need and provide food that is high in nutritional content and rich in vitamins'.
I am pleased to announce that we are on track to achieve this goal.
Over 457 000 learners from 1 028 schools currently receive two nutritious meals in the Western Cape every day. Allocations to the feeding scheme have more than doubled since 2009/2010, increasing from R112 million to just over R299,4 million in 2015/2016.
We will also continue to improve the nutritional value of meals.
In order to help assist over 50 000 learners in our poorer rural areas to get to and from school, we have allocated over R277 million for learner transport.
We will also be investing over R48,7 million in school hostels so as to increase access to schools for learners living in the rural areas.
School Safety is an on-going concern and challenge for WCED.
We salute the teachers who courageously face these challenges every day and strive to create a stable teaching and learning environment for our learners when there is violence and fear just outside the school gate.
The reality is that the WCED cannot alone create stable environments within and around our schools. We therefore rely heavily on the assistance of SAPS, the City of Cape Town and community safety fora. Again, parents have a major responsibility here too.
This year, we will invest over R28,5 million into the Safe Schools programme, which represents an increase of just over R1,5 million from the previous financial year. While this funding will not necessarily end violence in and around our schools it will be used to provide targeted security infrastructure support to schools and assist with behavioural interventions.
We still experience far too much vandalism at schools, which usually occurs in our poorer communities. This of course comes at a cost to the Department, and diverts money away from our learners. In 2015/16, R20 million will be allocated to the Emergency Maintenance Fund which will assist in repairing schools affected by burglary and vandalism.
We need to make a very obvious but important point. If we have 20 000 new learners migrating into the province each year, this means that an additional 15-20 schools are needed just to accommodate these learners.
This obviously has financial and planning consequences with the cost for infrastructure alone amounting to half our annual infrastructure budget. This does not take into account the existing backlog and maintenance of all our stock.
It is also not possible to determine where people are going to relocate to each year.
The WCED will again be investing heavily into school infrastructure to meet the above demands.
I am delighted to announce that thirty-eight WCED and ASIDI funded replacement schools are being either built or completed in this financial year.
In addition, this year we will see the completion of eleven new schools, while an extra fifteen are under construction.
The allocation towards new and replacement schools is just over R915,1 million this financial year, and R2,4 billion in the MTEF.
Maintenance of our schools is a top priority, with many of our poorer schools unable to keep up with maintenance and repairs. R338,5 million will be allocated towards maintenance.
The health of our learners is important. Health and Wellness mobiles are currently targeting our poorer rural schools which screen learners in Grades R-1. These mobiles each include a consultation room where general health screening can be performed, a dental unit and an optometry unit.
In 2014, thousands of learners were screened and treated for health ailments.
This is wonderful example of collaboration between the WCED, the Department of Health and the private sector - bringing healthcare to the doorstep of our poorer learners.
Our poorer schools will also be the first schools to benefit from the roll-out of the LAN and the instalment of Smart Classrooms and Lab Refreshes. Our plan first targets all schools in Quintiles 1-3 and Schools with Special Needs.
Speaker, we are well aware of the many challenges our learners with disabilities face.
One of the greatest challenges is increasing demand for access to our facilities.
In order to alleviate some of the pressure on our Special Needs Schools we will be building additional classrooms to existing schools, utilising full-service schools for learners who experience moderate barriers and provide support packages and 40 learning support teachers to full service schools.
Two additional special schools for children with high support needs will be built in the current MTEF.
The CTLI will also be focusing on the training of teachers in Inclusive Education to support this demand.
In addition, we recognise that some learners' educational needs cannot be met in mainstream schools and instead are more suited to vocational or practical study fields such as automative services, building and construction, manufacturing, hospitality, administration and personal care.
We currently have 18 Schools of Skill in this Province with 5 Special Schools that have skills units attached, and are looking to increase the number of places in these schools in the coming years.
I have and will continue to place greater emphasis on schools that offer technical skills training so as to improve the employability for the learners of this Province.
Finally, we will continue to provide opportunities for our youth who have repeatedly failed Grades 9 and 10.
I am extremely pleased to announce that this year's education budget supports the continuation of the Youth Focus Project (YFP) - a project unique to the Western Cape.
In 2015, the WCED has matched 993 Grade 9 and 10 learners to FET colleges and AET Centres across the province.
The WCED will be allocating R37,596 million towards this programme.
I am very excited about the vision for education in the Western Cape over the next five years.
I have no doubt that the interventions we are introducing will improve learner outcomes and the opportunities open to our young people.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Superintendent-General, Penny Vinjevold, for her incredible support in bringing me up to speed on a very new portfolio, my Ministerial Staff led by Bronagh Casey Hammond for their incredible work in a very demanding Ministry, and the WCED officials and staff for their dedication and commitment to making education 'Better Together' in this province.
I would also specially like to thank my husband and family for their ongoing support and patient understanding. Unfortunately my daughters could not be here today, as I made them go to school.
Together we can improve learner outcomes and ensure that our vision of an open opportunity society is realised.