Debate on Vote 5: Education – A budget to build on our successes - News | Western Cape Education Department

Debate on Vote 5: Education – A budget to build on our successes

27 March 2024

Speech by Minister David Maynier, Minister of Education Western Cape

1. Introduction

This year, we will spend R30.85 billion on education in the Western Cape.

This is the largest budget for education that we have ever tabled, and the largest budget of any department in our province.

It will allow us to build on the successful programmes we have implemented as part of our bold new direction for education, including:

  • The #BackOnTrack programme to reverse learning losses; and
  • Our Rapid School Build programme to build more schools, faster than ever before in poor communities.

So, in the 2024/25 financial year, we will build on these successes:

  • To improve learning outcomes,
  • To expand access to education,
  • And to develop resilience in our schools,

We do this with our department’s clear vision in mind: to deliver quality education for every learner, in every classroom, in every school in the Western Cape.

2. Improving learning outcomes: #BackOnTrack programme

The Covid-19 pandemic effectively wiped out a decade of progress in improving learning outcomes in our province.

Experts have warned that it will take another 10 years to claw back those learning losses, without drastic action.

We are not willing to wait a decade.

This year, we will spend R292 million on our #BackOnTrack programme to reverse learning losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and improve learning outcomes in the Western Cape.

The #BackOnTrack programme is the largest learning recovery programme in the country.

Starting from our launch last year, we targeted 22 000 learners in Grade 4, 7, 8, 10 and 12 in schools most in need of support according to their systemic test results.

These learners had the opportunity to attend extra Saturday classes and holiday classes, which proved a big success.

In addition to these grades, we invested heavily in the Foundation Phase, to give all 310 000 of our youngest learners a solid foundation upon which to build their future school career.

But we knew that the success of this programme would rely on supporting both our learners and their teachers.

We targeted over 9 000 teachers across all school phases for extra training and professional support.

The feedback we have received from our schools has been encouraging, and we appreciate their willingness to share their thoughts on what we can do to improve the programme.

We released the results of the 2023 annual systemic tests earlier this year, which show an improvement in Mathematics and Language scores across all school phases in the Western Cape.

These improvements are especially evident in the Foundation Phase, with the Grade 3 Mathematics pass rate increasing by 4.3 percentage points, and Grade 3 Language pass rate increasing by 4.0 percentage points.

We have also managed to halt the decline in Grade 6 and 9 results, with an improvement in both Maths and Language scores for those grades.

But there is still work to be done.

This year, we will double the number of Grade 4 and 7 learners targeted, and maintain our targets for Grade 8, 10 and 12 learners in schools, for a total of 28 000 learners in these grades.

And we will of course continue our support for 310 000 Foundation Phase learners.

So in total, #BackOnTrack will provide 338 000 learners, or roughly 30% of our province’s total learner population, with extra support to improve learning outcomes.

Our additional professional support for teachers will also continue this year, with over 9 500 teachers set to receive support this year.

Our learners have already started their extra classes for the year.

When I visited the learners at Rocklands Primary School to experience the implementation of the #BackOnTrack programme firsthand, what struck me the most was how excited learners were to be there, and that they couldn’t wait to get into class, on a weekend!

We appreciate the additional hours our principals, tutors, school staff and officials are putting in to support our learners on weekends and during the holidays, across the Western Cape.

3. Expanding access to education

We know that our province is under extreme admissions pressure.

And we have already received new admissions applications for nearly 60 000 Grade 1 and 8 learners seeking a place in a Western Cape school in 2025.

So it is clear that to keep up with this demand, we need to urgently increase the number of places available in our schools, including those for learners with special needs.

3.1 Rapid School Build Programme

This year, we will spend R860 million on our Rapid School Build infrastructure programme to expand access to education in the Western Cape.

The Rapid School Build Programme marks a clear departure from ‘business-as-usual’ building timelines, drawing in support from all stakeholders to get the job done.


  • Fisherhaven Academy, completed in just 71 days to be ready in time for the 2024 school year.


  • The new classrooms at Spine Road High School, Windsor High School, Parow High School and Westcott Primary School, designed to blend seamlessly with the existing buildings and create more places for learners at these high-demand schools.

And consider:

  • The new Lwandle Primary School, the first part of the Lwandle Education Precinct.

Construction at our Blueridge Sports Grounds site in Wallacedene is also progressing well, after we obtained an interdict against the group that was delaying the construction.

This year, in preparation for the 2025 school year, our department aims to build at least 6 new schools in areas where demand for placement is highest.

We have also budgeted for at least 300 additional classrooms at existing schools, including high schools where the demand for places is high.

But that is not all:

We recently announced that the National Treasury has made an additional provisional allocation of R2.5 billion over the next three years to our Rapid School Build programme.

The provisional funding is specifically allocated to building new schools that will expand the number of school places available in our province, in areas that have larger class sizes and a high demand for placement.

Once this funding is confirmed, we will be in a position to significantly expand the number of planned new schools over the next three years in the Western Cape.

3.2 Special Needs Education

It is often said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.

The reality we face is that the education of learners with special needs is not fully catered for by national government.

So we are filling the gap to make sure that our most vulnerable learners are supported.

This year, we will provide an additional R71.4 million to improve our support for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

And we will provide extra funding for Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities, with an additional R70.4 million allocated to support these vulnerable learners.

We completed two new special needs schools this year, and have been adding dozens of extra classrooms to existing special schools to accommodate more learners.

And continuing this commitment for the coming school year, as part of our Rapid School Build programme, we will build 30 additional classrooms for learners with special needs at special and existing schools.

4. Developing resilient schools

We are acutely aware that external challenges like crime and loadshedding have a negative impact on the daily functioning of our schools.

We are playing our part to support our schools as they tackle these challenges.

4.1 Safety and security

This year, we will spend R57.5 million on responding to safety challenges in our schools and school communities.

Last year, we funded 46 School Resource Officers, who are law enforcement officers stationed at our schools to tackle crime and safety matters.

This year, we will fund an additional 18 School Resource Officers, so that we have a total of 64 officers supporting our schools.

And next year we will add another 18, for a total of 82 School Resource Officers!

We will continue to subsidise holiday security at over 400 schools every school holiday, which is the when schools are at greatest risk.

And we will continue to provide support to our schools through violence prevention initiatives, holiday programmes, improved access control, and the Safe Schools call centre.

4.2 Energy efficiency

We are also facing the difficult reality that the national government is not able to provide a sustainable supply of electricity.

Loadshedding has had a crippling effect on our economy, and is making it harder for teaching and learning to occur in our schools, too.

We must do what we can to help shield our schools from the negative impact that loadshedding has on eLearning, administrative systems, cooking and lighting, and to do our part to improve energy efficiency in our province.

This year, we will spend R144 million to develop the use of green energy solutions in schools in the Western Cape.

Our successful light replacement project, which replaced high energy usage existing lighting with energy efficient LED lighting, will continue this year, with a further 30 schools receiving replacement lighting.

We also plan to install a solar PV, inverter and backup battery system in at least 60 schools this year, to keep the lights on when loadshedding strikes so that teaching and learning can continue.

5.         Budget cuts: impact and response

At the end of last year, we suffered a devastating R716.4 million blow to our budget for education in the Western Cape.

Our conditional grants, including the Education Infrastructure Grant, were cut by R179.4 million.

In addition, the national government only provide 64% of the wage agreement funding due to us, which means we were short-changed by R537 million.

This forced us to implement cost containment measures, including building fewer schools and employing fewer relief teachers.

This will put more pressure on our schools and more pressure on our teachers.

So I want to be clear that we are doing everything we can:

To support our schools,

To support our teachers,

And to ultimately improve learning outcomes.

We have taken steps to seek additional sources of funding to deliver quality education to our learners.

As already mentioned, we have received a provisional allocation of R 2.5 billion through the Budget Facility for Infrastructure for our Rapid School Build programme, which is a huge credit to our infrastructure team.

In addition, we are using our provincial funds to compensate for the shortfalls in our funding allocation, by:

  • Topping up the National School Feeding Scheme grant by R63.9 million, to cover food price inflation;
  • Topping up school quintile funding by R498.7 million to fund 315 additional no-fee schools in quintile 4 and 5; and
  • Topping up our infrastructure budget by R975.4 million from our provincial equitable share.

To put this in perspective, we contribute 42% of our infrastructure budget from our provincial funds, compared to other provinces that contribute less than 10% and some who rely exclusively on the Education Infrastructure Grant!

And we are developing our partnerships with the private sector, through the launch of Edu Invest in collaboration with Wesgro, which seeks to increase private sector investment in the education sector in the Western Cape.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, despite the immense financial challenges we face, we will continue to do everything in our power to build on our successes:

  • To improve learning outcomes,
  • To expand access to education,
  • And to develop resilience in our schools

The past year has been a tough one.

But we should all take hope from the incredible dedication of our principals, our teachers, and our school staff.

They are superheroes who show so much care, support, and love for our children every day.

I would also like to thank our education department officials, led by our Superintendent-General, Mr Brent Walters, as well as my staff in the Ministry of Education, led by Ms Odette Cason, for their hard work.

Together, we will continue to strive toward quality education for every learner, in every classroom, in every school in the Western Cape.

Media Enquiries:
Kerry Mauchline
Spokesperson to Minister David Maynier
Western Cape Ministry of Education