Education Budget Vote delivered at Provincial
Legislature, Cape Town
Budget Vote of the Western Cape
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
23 March 2012
This document is also available in Afrikaans and isiXhosa


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

INTRODUCTION

Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the 2012/2013 Budget for education in the Western Cape.

It is my privilege to welcome a number of special guests to this important occasion for education in the Western Cape:

  • My wife, Cheryl;
  • Professor Brian Figaji, Chair of the Education Council; and
  • Professor Daya Reddy, Vice Chair of that Council.

Thank you for joining us today.

I also want to mention as special guests - although for obvious reasons they cannot be present here today - all the principals of the schools in the Western Cape.

My time as Minister has reinforced my belief that they are crucial to the quality of schooling available to the young people in our schools. We salute them and the large body of professionals they manage on a day to day basis for their dedication and their commitment to improvement.

A copy of today's budget speech has been made available to all of them as a sign of my respect for them as partners in providing a quality education to all Western Cape learners.

Speaker, the Western Cape Government recently undertook its mid-term review to determine the progress made as a government since 2009.

I am pleased to report that in education we have made good progress in laying the necessary foundation to achieve our strategic objectives of improving learner outcomes and the quality of education in the Western Cape.

Speaker, you and the members have in front of you a report which we released in November last year detailing the progress made in implementing our Strategic Plan for Education since 2009.

Today I will report briefly on some of the progress we have made, focusing specifically on what we are doing better and what we are doing smarter to achieve our strategic objectives. I will also focus on what we plan to do to work better and smarter in the 2012/2013 financial year to build on the progress we have made.

The overarching objective of this plan is to improve the life chances of and to create opportunity for all children in the Western Cape through the provision of quality education.

We are committed to improving learner performance in literacy and numeracy and in the National Senior Certificate examination, as well as reducing the learner drop-out rate.

To deliver on this commitment, we identified 10 key priorities. Every budgetary decision is guided by these priorities and will continue to be informed by the need to improve learner outcomes and to provide greater access to quality education.

THE 2012/2013 BUDGET

One of this Government's primary focus areas is to reduce poverty. The only sustainable way to beat poverty is by creating opportunities for economic growth. Through being educated, people are better placed to secure a job, earn an income and ultimately lead lives they value. The importance of education in reducing poverty is therefore reflected in the Western Cape Government's Budget.

Earlier this month, the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism announced that within the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Western Cape Education Department would receive over a third of the provincial budget - an allocation of R45.381 billion.

The Department will receive R14.229 billion for the 2012/13 financial year - 35.7% of the provincial budget for that financial year. This is an increase from the previous financial year with expenditure in education growing on average by 13.3% per annum in nominal terms since 2008/09.

The budget for education will be used to fulfil the objectives set out in our strategic plan with public ordinary school education continuing to be the main focus of the Department's funding with an allocation of 80.1% of the education budget.

The performance of public ordinary schools is a key indicator when determining the performance levels of this Government in education over the last two years.

What is particularly gratifying is that the performance of our public ordinary schools is continuing to show a positive trend, particularly in the results achieved over the last two years in the National Senior Certificate examinations.

This is a reflection of a maturing provincial education system responding positively to a number of systems improvements. It shows us that each year the Department, together with our schools, is working better and working smarter to improve the quality of education in the Western Cape. In the 2012/2013 financial year, we will seek to deepen the systems improvements we have made since 2009.

HOW ARE WE WORKING BETTER?

Speaker, this Government has prioritised the improvement of learner outcomes in the province by implementing a number of initiatives and programmes to:

  • improve the literacy and numeracy levels of our learners; and to
  • increase the number and improve the quality of passes achieved by our learners in the National Senior Certificate examinations.

The 2011 National Senior Certificate results indicate that we are getting better at improving learner outcomes in the province. The Western Cape was the top performing province in the country with an increased pass rate of 82.9% (up from 76.7%).

In the same year, we also exceeded our previous record of the number of candidates who achieved access to Bachelor Degree study. 801 more learners qualified in 2011.

These improved results are a product of targeted, sustained and sensible systems solutions. To ensure that we continue to work better in improving learner outcomes in 2012, we will work at adding greater value to the system for the benefit of our teachers and our learners.

The Department discussed with each of our schools their National Senior Certificate results to identify problem areas and to set improvement targets for the year ahead.

Schools requiring targeted support from the Department have been identified according to their subject needs. Our tutoring programme will continue with effect from April with greater emphasis being placed on the quality of tutors provided to each school.

This year will see a focus on individual learner improvements. Schools have been requested to identify learners who are at risk so that specialised support can be provided to these learners and their educators.

To support the development of our learners, the Department distributed CDs to our schools containing exemplar examination papers for learner use and ensured that our Grade 12 learners received their 'Tips for Success' booklets as early as January this year - a Western Cape initiative that is being duplicated in other provinces.

I am very pleased to announce that this year, as part of the Department's efforts to improve learner outcomes in the province, all our Grade 9 learners will in April receive a Grade 9 "Tips for Success" booklet which will give Grade 9s the advice needed to select the right subjects as they prepare to move from Grade 9 to Grade 10. These booklets will be provided to each of you today.

Speaker, while improvements in learner outcomes at the top end of the system are one of our priorities, we also need to ensure that our learners have the requisite literacy and numeracy skills by the time they reach high school if they are to reach their full academic potential.

That is why we allocate significant resources to the Foundation Phase to improve our learners' abilities in literacy and numeracy.

In the last two years, the Western Cape Government has expanded systemic testing of learners in these areas dramatically. In addition to testing the literacy and numeracy competencies of our Grades 3 and 6 learners, the Department introduced testing for Grade 9 learners for the first time in 2011. Learners in Grades 3, 6 and 9 are tested every year.

In 2011, we saw solid progress in our mathematics results with Grade 3 learners increasing their results from 35% in 2008 to 48.3% in 2010. Similarly, the results in Grade 6 increased from 17.4% in 2009 to 23.4% in 2010.

While we are seeing improvements in this regard, the levels in numeracy are still not what they should be. Similarly, the levels of literacy in Grades 3, 6 and 9 are still low. Learners are not reading enough complex texts with comprehension and are not writing long enough paragraphs.

We have therefore made the provision of quality texts and materials one of our priorities - both in planning and in financial allocations.

This Government is firmly of the belief that textbooks are an essential educational resource for the development of reading, writing and language skills.

This time last year in this chamber I made the unprecedented commitment that over the next three years all children from Grades 1 to 12 will receive a textbook in every subject that they are taking.

In the 2011/12 financial year, the Department exceeded the national norm for textbook provision by allocating an additional R133 million for textbooks. At the start of the 2012 school year, learners in Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 benefitted from a record-breaking rollout of over 2 million textbooks and readers.

For the first time, learners in Grades 1 and 2 now have a mathematics textbook and our Grade 10 learners have textbooks for the seven subjects that they are taking.

To expand this initiative in the 2012/2013 financial year, we have allocated an additional R144.301 million to the provision of textbooks in addition to the R240 million norms and standards funding provided for textbook provisioning.

The majority of this allocation will be directed at providing textbooks to learners in GradeS 4, 5, 6 and 11. We will target the remaining grades - Grades 7, 8, 9 and 12 - in the 2013/2014 financial year to ensure that we meet our strategic goals for textbook provisioning by 2014 in line with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS).

Speaker, this Government remains committed to providing our learners with the best learning environment possible. In line with this commitment, we have undertaken to replace school infrastructure that is not suitable for maximising education outcomes.

In 2010, I announced the Department's infrastructure plan which included the replacement of 20 schools built with inappropriate materials usually during apartheid.

Since the announcement of this plan we have completed the building of 8 replacement schools and in the 2012/2013 financial year expect to complete a further 13 schools. I am pleased to report that we are well on track to achieve this target.

Speaker, while we are determined to replace as many schools as possible, we also need to build new schools to keep up with the growing demand for schooling in certain areas.

Last year we completed the building of 11 new schools in this province serving learners living in poorer areas where we have seen increased growth.

Because of the growing demand for better education infrastructure, we have invested heavily in our Infrastructure Programme to the tune of R2.347 billion over the MTEF.

Of this figure, R518.356 million has been allocated to the construction of new facilities and the replacement of inappropriate structures in the 2012/13 financial year. R572.168 million and R505.579 million will be allocated to the 2013/14 financial year and the 2014/15 financial year, respectively.

Speaker, while the Western Cape Government is doing it all it can to provide our schools with texts, support and infrastructure needed for improvement, we believe that this is only part of the support needed for better learner outcomes each year.

The support and commitment of dedicated teachers and principals who use these resources wisely remains the key.

Effective use of resources and of teaching and learning time implies that we all understand and are committed to the goals of quality education. This shared commitment to the identified outcomes has been an outstanding characteristic of the Western Cape school system.

In this regard, I am pleased to announce that all 1452 principals of our schools have signed off on their School Improvement Plans or SIPS. The SIPS is an online management tool that requires schools to set targets for improvements for each grade.

These improvement targets are determined by principals in consultation with the relevant district office after careful analysis of the Grades 3, 6 and 9 literacy and numeracy test results, the Annual National Assessment results, the National Senior Certificate results, internal test results and data available on areas such as absenteeism. Once determined, the targets are captured into the SIPS database and monitored to ensure that each of our schools is progressing.

I am delighted to see the commitment of our school principals to improving the learner outcomes at their respective schools as part of an overall team effort.

Speaker, this Government strongly believes that hard work should be recognised and progress rewarded. Where schools are working better and producing improved results (particularly in literacy and numeracy), we want to reward them and incentivise them to continue this improvement.

I am therefore delighted to announce the launch of an incentive programme that rewards primary schools that have improved the number and quality of passes in the Grade 3 numeracy systemic testing and high schools that have increased the number and quality of mathematics passes and National Senior Certificate passes with access to Bachelor degree study.

R25 million has been allocated to this incentive programme.

Schools receiving these incentives will ensure that the funds received are spent on items that enhance their capacity to deliver a quality education to our learners.

These items could include one or more of the following priority areas:

  • school maintenance;
  • the purchase of new IT equipment for administrative or teaching purposes; and
  • the promotion of mathematics, such as the purchase of books with extra mathematics exercises and mathematics manipulatives and games.

The incentive programme has been well-received by our schools and now provides us with the opportunity to reward schools for working better and improving their learner outcomes. We are pleased to be able to show our schools, and our educators, that we appreciate their hard work in achieving our shared goals of improving learner outcomes in this province.

Speaker, we cannot expect all of our schools to improve their results and qualify for incentives such as these if we do not provide our educators with the opportunity to grow professionally.

In our strategic plan for education in 2009, we made the commitment to provide educators with opportunities for ongoing professional development and training. To deliver on this commitment, we have increased the budget allocation for the professional development and training of our educators with allocation of R95.2 million in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Equally important as the training of our educators is the training of our school leadership and management teams. This year we are offering a number of training courses at the Cape Teaching and Learning Institute, including courses on the roles and responsibilities of deputy principals and heads of departments; workshops for aspiring school principals; school management team training and an induction programme for new school principals.

Importantly, today is the last day of the School Governing Body elections. Our schools have conducted a successful election process and we wish all our new School Governing Bodies success for the three years they have ahead of them.

The importance of these new School Governing Bodies should not be underestimated. They have major responsibilities which they exercise on behalf of schools, including; determining the admission policies of schools and the code of conduct for learners, the drafting of the school budget, determining school fees and, crucially, the right to interview and nominate educators and principals for appointment.

Given these responsibilities, it is essential that all members of every School Governing Body understand their responsibilities.

Extensive training to the new School Governing Bodies will take place between April and June 2012 to ensure that the new members of each School Governing Body have the knowledge and skills needed to govern their school successfully.

Speaker, any system which functions through a high level of institutional autonomy - as does our public school system - requires a clear framework within which to exercise its responsibilities.

This has to be provided by my Ministry and the Department. Examples of this framework are the recently published revised definitions of serious learner misconduct and the draft Code of Conduct for School Governing Bodies.

If we are to work as a team better together to improve education outcomes in this province, we need to ensure that our schools, educators, principals and School Governing Bodies have the necessary support from our district officials and the Head Office.

In 2009, we made the responsiveness and efficiency of the Western Cape Education Department one of our priority areas. Our aim was to restructure operations at Head and District Offices so that we can provide better service, rapid response and support to our schools and educators with a view to improving the overall quality of education.

We have made a number of improvements in this regard which have contributed to the overall satisfaction levels in our service delivery.

Speaker, we are deeply committed to directing the majority of the resources I have mentioned today at improving the education outcomes of the schools that serve our province's poorest communities and ensuring that our most vulnerable learners have every opportunity to receive a quality education and to compete in life.

It is sometimes asserted that this Government does not spend sufficiently on the poorer members of our society. The facts do not support this claim. The figures show that consistently the poorer 60% of our school population receive the greater allocations in terms of important indicators such as norms and standards funding, school feeding, new infrastructure and learner transport.

In line with this commitment, it is a key strategic objective of this Government to reduce the number of the province's underperforming schools (i.e. schools with a Grade 12 pass rate of less than 60%).

Since 2009, I am delighted to report that we have seen significant improvements in reducing the number of underperforming schools. The number of underperforming public high schools dropped by more than 60% from 78 in 2010 to 30 in 2011.

Speaker, I would like to tell you about a community in the Western Cape which demonstrates how we are working better to improve the life chances of our learners.

In this community there are 21 high schools. In 2009 the National Senior Certificate results at these high schools were poor with 15 out of the 21 schools achieving under 60% with an average combined pass rate of 53.6%.

However, two years later, under this Government, there have been some phenomenal increases in this area. Since 2009, the average pass rate increased by 13.5% and the number of learners passing increased by 24.9%. There has also been a remarkable 44.8% increase in the number of Bachelor passes

Of the 15 underperforming schools in this community two years ago, there are now only six. This represents an impressive decrease of 60%.

It is evident that, under this Government, the life chances of the learners in this community have improved dramatically since 2009. This can be attributed to the increased distribution of human and financial resources to this area - an area which has historically experienced under-investment. This area is Khayelitsha.

This story of the Khayelitsha high schools in the last two years is an example of how this Government is fulfilling its commitment to reducing the socio-economic inequalities that many people in the province encounter every day.

The fact is that the majority of our resources are quite rightly being invested in improving the quality of education in poorer areas (such as Khayelitsha) and the return on this investment is beginning to show across the whole province. For instance, our poorest schools in National Quintile 1 in the 2011 National Senior Certificate examinations improved their pass rate from 57% in 2010 to 70% in 2011. The pass rate across schools in the poorest three National Quintiles increased to more than 70%.

The Department invested R3.2 million in the provision of individual backpacks with stationery to Foundation Phase learners in all of our 301 National Quintile 1 schools at the start of the 2012 school year. Our young learners are now able to commute to and from school with their new backpacks filled with books and work materials which they otherwise would not have brought home for extra reading and study.

Speaker, there is no doubt that poverty has a severe impact on learning. A hungry child cannot learn or function properly. Basic nutrition is a prerequisite for a quality learning experience. This Government is therefore committed to expanding the rollout of our nutrition programme in schools serving the province's poorest communities.

The Western Cape's nutrition programme remains one of the better run in the country and provides warm nutritious meals to over 430,000 young, poor and vulnerable learners across the province every day.

To allow our children to get the most out of each school day, the Department's nutrition programme has been expanded over the last two years. This expansion is reflected in the budget increases that have been effected since 2009. In the 2009/2010 financial year, R112 million was allocated to the Department's school feeding scheme. This figure was increased to R173 million in the 2010/2011 financial year and R227 million in the 2011/2012 financial year. I am delighted to announce that we will increase this investment in the 2012/2013 financial year to R244.8 million.

We will also allocate R203 million for learner transport to assist learners living in our poorer rural areas to get to and from school. Again, this allocation represents an increase.

Furthermore, this year we have allocated R43 million to compensating our schools for the fees that they forego to ensure that more learners from the province's poorer communities have the opportunity to attend school and receive an education. In the 2011/2012 financial year, we paid out over R20 million in compensation to 511 schools in the province.

In the 2012/2013 financial year, we will allocate R21 million for incentives for educators in rural areas. This initiative aims to improve the quality of teaching and learner outcomes in the rural areas, particularly in our most remote and poor areas.

Speaker, this Government will continue working to improve the quality of education outcomes achieved by schools that serve our province's poorest communities and to expanding access to a quality education to all learners in the Western Cape, particularly those who face a number of life obstacles.

In an open opportunity society for all, it is essential that we provide opportunities for all learners to access a quality education, including those children with barriers to learning.

The Western Cape already leads the country in the provision of special needs education. Our ongoing commitment to these learners is reflected in the allocation of R851.7 million that will be made to this programme in the 2012/13 financial year. This represents an increase from last year.

In this sector of the Department, there has been a shift to a continuum of support spread across a range of settings, including mainstream schools, full-service schools and special schools.

District-based and circuit-based teams - which include Learning Support advisors, social workers, school psychologists, therapists, and officials responsible for school nutrition and the care and support of learners living with HIV/AIDS - provide support in all the various settings where learners may experience barriers to learning. In addition, there are more than 450 itinerant Learning Support teachers.

A focus area in the special school sector has been the Schools for the Deaf. The task team established to investigate the quality of education for the deaf in the Department made various recommendation in their 2011 report - many of which have already been implemented.

Speaker, we have also developed new ways of working smarter so that the budget allocated to education is spent as responsibly and efficiently as possible. Working smarter means that we are able to get more value out of the public funds we spend in improving the quality of education in the province than before.

HOW ARE WE WORKING SMARTER?

The Western Cape Education Department has developed a number of key initiatives to unlock efficiencies within the system.

Human resource stability is a key factor in the efficient functioning of schools. The Department has developed a number of smart approaches to ensuring that the staffing needs of schools are met quickly and effectively.

These include the more frequent publication of vacancy lists, an online application system for Principal posts and a revised process for the appointment of school support staff. Overall vacancies are filled more quickly, staffing stability is enhanced and appropriate screening results in a safer environment for learners.

The Department introduced a planning calendar for the 2012 school year which included the various dates and details of training programmes and workshops. The introduction of the planning calendar is a simple but smart way of encouraging our educators, principals and school management teams to plan ahead and to take advantage of the development opportunities on offer.

To ensure that we get more out of the budget allocated to textbook provisioning, the Department has negotiated excellent prices with publishers, resulting in savings of between R5 million and R6 million. These savings will be used to purchase additional textbooks for our schools. This initiative has shown that through smart planning the Department is able to get better value for money than before and accelerate the rollout of our ambitious textbook provisioning plans.

We also developed a new system for ordering textbooks online. The system offers schools a comprehensive choice of textbooks from the national catalogue of CAPS-approved textbooks while also making it quick and easy to place orders online.

This system has allowed us to speed up textbook delivery, with planned delivery for the 2013 school year to be completed by November this year.

Speaker, the unfortunate reality in this country is that where there is poverty, there generally is crime. Crime impacts on our schools and their capacity to provide a quality education. Learner behaviour is negatively modified by the influence of gangs, drugs and sexual or physical abuse. Crime has a disproportionate effect on learners in poorer communities and it is therefore a priority of this Government that we find ways of reducing the impact of crime on learning opportunities.

We will therefore allocate R24.2 million in the 2012/2013 budget to the Department's Safe Schools programme. This represents an increase of R1.2 million and demonstrates this Government's commitment to working smarter to improve the safety of our learners and the security of our schools.

Our Safe Schools programme will provide targeted support to schools to address issues such as youth development, substance abuse, conflict management and mediation, gangsterism and safety management.

In order to protect our schools from vandalism, an additional 50 schools will receive core security infrastructure such as alarm systems, safety gates and burglar proofing.

The Department will continue to encourage and forge positive engagements with various sectors to help curb incidents of vandalism and damage to school property. These sectors include neighbourhood watch groups, armed response companies, local police, parents and learners themselves.

When a school is vandalised the Department has to provide funds to repair the damaged property or to replace stolen goods. These funds come from the Department's maintenance and repair budget which has been allocated an amount of R114.725 million in the 2012/2013 financial year. This represents an increase of R6.3 million compared to the previous financial year.

We are therefore grateful for the support we receive from public-private partnerships such as the one initiated at Parkwood Primary School between the Department, Lead SA and other community organisations last year. Parkwood Primary School experienced several break-ins where classrooms were damaged and electrical cables stolen. Lead SA offered their support to help repair the school with the support of other organisations. In a matter of days the school had been transformed with a new coat of paint, fixed electrical cables and improved security infrastructure.

Their involvement in this project illustrates what can be achieved when people, organisations and the government form partnerships that are committed to achieving a common goal, namely making our schools safer and more secure together.

Speaker, we will be encouraging and facilitating similar public-private partnerships this year to achieve similar outcomes at our schools.

While on the subject of partnerships, I must highlight the fact that the Education Council - under the able leadership of Professor Brian Figaji - has brought together an important cross section of informed and stakeholder opinion. This Council will increasingly make an invaluable contribution through its advice in the formulation of education policy in this province.

Another kind of partnership is our close cooperation with the appropriate local and provincial government agencies aimed at a coordinated approach to the expansion and effective delivery of Early Childhood Development and Adult Basic Education and Training services. This transversal approach to important needs that are not confined to formal education is significant.

In addition to these smart initiatives, the Department is leading the rest of the country in the delivery and roll-out of ICT infrastructure to strengthen and support quality teaching in our schools.

Recently, the Premier made an exciting announcement in her State of the Province address regarding the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle or Public Private Partnership to bring broadband access to every school, as well as every provincial and every municipal government facility, in the Western Cape over the next two and half years.

It is our view that high speed broadband connectivity is the foundation on which information technology can be integrated into our schools, making equitable access to the information highway possible for all users, regardless of location.

Speaker, I am pleased to announce that, in line with the Department's commitment to working smarter in improving education outcomes in this province, we will be investing R34 million of the Department's R60 million ICT budget in the Premier's project. High speed broadband connectivity will enable the Department to improve the quality of education in this province through the provisioning of high quality curriculum material and teaching aids, improved communication and remote technical support.

To further our commitment to working smarter and expanding access to leading technology in the province, I am delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new initiative that will see each school principal in this province receive a PC tablet. These tablets - which will be delivered later in the year - will improve the way in which we communicate with and provide support to our principals. This Government values the work that our principals do to improve education outcomes in the province and it is our hope that the provision of these tablets will help them work smarter.

CONCLUSION

Speaker - A year ago, I said in this House that I was under no illusion that we still had some way to go to achieve our strategic objectives. We have worked hard. The Western Cape Education Department under the able leadership of the Superintendent-General, Ms Penny Vinjevold, and her senior management team has spared no effort in the best interests of the learners of this province. Head Office and district level officials have clear education goals in sight. At school level these are reflected in the School Improvement Plans.

I thank everyone involved for their efforts in bringing us closer to where we know we must be and for ensuring that thousands of our children are in better learning environments than they were before. But we have not achieved all of these goals - education is a work in progress - and I stand here again today with our combined commitment to continued hard work and to further improvement.

The beneficiaries are the young people in our schools, the educators and support staff who deliver the service and the broad community of parents, institution of learning and business and industry - the total society of the Western Cape.

So far today I have not mentioned one of the most important elements of any school system. It is also missing from this budget as it is something that we can neither purchase nor build. It is parental involvement in the education of children.

The enrolment process for the 2013 school year has already begun and we call on parents to register their children early so that we have all children living in the Western Cape enrolled before the end of the school year.

We strongly encourage parents to talk to their children about what they are doing at school, what they read, what they wrote and what sums they did each day of the school year. We also want parents to speak to teachers about what they are doing in school to build these skills, and what parents can do to help their child's teachers.

Through the combined effort of learners, teachers and parents, as well as support from the Department, we are confident that we can continue to increase the levels of competency in literacy and numeracy levels in this province.

Finally, Speaker, as we move forward another year, I am confident that we have built here in the Western Cape a strong team, a driving force consisting of our educators, officials and learners of the Western Cape. With further support from our parents and communities we can achieve all of our goals. This is working Better Together in action.

Thank you.


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2012 Western Cape Education Department