Education – A budget to get the job done
Speech by Minister David Maynier, Minister of Education Western Cape
We will spend a massive R29.55 billion on education this year in the Western Cape.
Which is an increase of R1.38 billion compared to last year, making the education budget the biggest budget of any department in the provincial government.
This is a clear indication of the value that we place on education, and of our commitment to delivering quality education for every learner, in every classroom, in every school in the Western Cape.
Taking action to reverse learning losses, expand access to education, and support learners with special needs
To deliver quality education:
We need to reverse learning losses,
We need to rapidly expand access to education,
And we need to improve support to learners with special needs.
We will spend R399 million this year on an ambitious and unprecedented plan to reverse learning losses in the Western Cape.
We recently released the 2022 Western Cape systemic test results, which show that our recovery interventions are having an impact.
But while there are some positive indications in the results, they also reveal that the learning outcomes of our children are cause for serious concern.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the performance of our learners, when they were already struggling to pass in some subjects before the pandemic.
And if the learning losses are this severe in our province, they will be as severe or even more severe in other provinces.
We simply cannot say that a child is receiving quality education if more than half of our Grade 3, 6, and 9, learners cannot achieve the basic pass score for Mathematics and Reading.
The fact is that learning losses is the critical problem that we must solve in our education system today.
We will therefore be launching an unprecedented #BackOnTrack programme, targeted specifically to the learners, teachers and parents in schools where our systemic test results indicate that the need is greatest.
The programme is designed to build on the existing interventions we have undertaken, which have already been implemented and are already demonstrating good results, especially in the Foundation Phase.
Most importantly, the programme will cover all phases and all stakeholders, in a massive collective effort to get our children #BackOnTrack.
We plan to provide added academic support to 18 000 learners in Grades 4, 7, 8, 10 and 12 this year.
For example, we plan to implement a specific catch-up programme in Languages and Mathematics in Grades 4, 7 and 8 for 10 000 learners in 200 schools, closing the content gaps from previous grades.
And we plan to implement a specific Mathematics intervention for 4 000 Grade 10 learners at 140 schools, based on the Grade 9 Mathematics performance in last year’s systemic tests.
The Grade 10 intervention will include addressing content gaps from previous grades, structured tutoring, residential #BackOnTrack camps, and providing each of these learners with a package of resources they need to succeed.
We plan to provide additional specific professional development and support to 6 260 teachers in Grades 1, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 12 this year.
For example, 2 000 Grade 4, 7 and 8 teachers will participate in an intensive programme, where they will be taken out of class every ten days to receive dedicated professional development and support.
And we plan to target training and support to 28 000 parents of learners in Grades 4, 7, 8 and 10 so that they can help their children get #BackOnTrack.
This will involve parent programmes in Reading and Mathematics at 200 schools, providing parents with ideas and skills so that they can better support their children’s learning.
Over the coming weeks, we will unpack the full three-year set of #BackOnTrack programme interventions for each school phase.
We have to take action,
To reverse learning losses.
And so, to get the job done, we will spend R399 million this year on this ambitious and unprecedented #BackOnTrack programme in the Western Cape.
Rapid School Build
We will spend R2.9 billion this year on rapidly expanding access to education in the Western Cape.
We cannot say that a child is receiving quality education,
- If there are too many learners in a class,
- If there are too few teachers in a school, and
- If there are too few schools in our province.
And that was why we implemented our Rapid School Build programme, to deliver additional schools and classrooms across our province faster than before, in time for the 2023 school year.
We aim to deliver no less than 21 new and replacement schools for occupation by the start of the 2024 school year, which is three times the number of schools we built last year.
Now, 15 of the schools are brand new schools, while the remaining 6 are replacement schools to replace school buildings that are made of inappropriate materials.
We are also going to add an additional 289 classrooms to existing schools, over-and-above the new school builds to deal with admissions pressure.
We will be undertaking upgrades and modernisations at 28 schools, which is separate and in addition to our normal, scheduled and ongoing maintenance at schools across the province.
This plan is not without risks, and we have always been open and honest about the risks:
Challenges with finding suitable land,
Potential community disruptions,
Shortages of materials,
Yes, this is an ambitious plan.
Yes, there are many risks.
But that is not a reason not to try.
We have to take action,
To rapidly expand access to education.
So, to get the job done, we will spend R2.9 billion this year on our Rapid School Build programme in the Western Cape.
Improving support to learners with special needs
We will spend an additional R135 million this year to improve support to learners with special needs in the Western Cape.
It is often said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.
We will spend an additional R68 million specifically to improve our support for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
As part of our Rapid School Build programme, we will be constructing 2 new schools for learners with special needs, and an additional 28 classrooms at existing special schools or full service schools, which will be able to cater for learners with ASD with high support needs, and will be able to provide outreach services to public ordinary schools to support learners with ASD with low to moderate support needs.
We will employ additional teachers, classroom assistants and therapists needed for these additional schools and classrooms, and we will address challenges in the identification and support of learners with ASD.
We will also spend an additional R67 million this year on improving the resources available to learners with Profound Intellectual Disability (LPID).
We are currently in consultation with the relevant stakeholders to finalise the plan for the use of this funding, so that we provide the necessary support to some of our most vulnerable children.
We have to take action,
To support learners with special needs
So, to get the job done, we will spend an additional R135 million this year to improve support to learners with ASD and profound intellectual disabilities in the Western Cape.
Taking action to support pathways to work, safer schools and school energy resilience
Pathways to work
We need to find ways to accelerate our efforts to develop the skills our economy needs, and to create pathways into work in the Western Cape.
To get the job done, we will spend R5 million this year improving the implementation of career and work-readiness training as part of the Life Orientation curriculum, to provide career development support and exposure to the world of work and workplaces.
And we will spend R531 million on the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative in our schools, which will ensure that up to 20 500 young people will gain paid work experience in our schools this year, giving them a leg up in moving into permanent employment or further studies.
We need to find ways to make our schools safer.
To get the job done, we plan to spend R76.1 million this year on securing our schools, and promoting the safety of learners at school.
We committed to constructing secure fencing at 30 schools every year for five years.
We will in fact reach that target of 150 schools over five years a full year ahead of schedule, completing fencing at this final 30 schools in this financial year!
We are also expanding the number of School Resource Officers in our schools, which 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, bring the total number of officers deployed in our schools to 46. And next year, we will add another 18. And the year after that, another 18, for a total of 82 officers in our schools!
And we will continue our investment into access control, holiday security, emergency security, youth development, and crime prevention activities in our schools.
School energy resilience
We need a collective effort to make schools more energy resilient.
To get the job done, we will spend R40 million this year to promote energy efficiency, generation, and storage, in our schools.
Our LED lighting project, in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch, has already seen high energy usage lights at 50 schools replaced with energy-efficient LED lighting. The new lighting helps these schools to save around 30% on their electricity costs while reducing the demand on the grid.
This year, we will replace the lighting at a further 25 schools, so that they too can reduce their electricity bills and improve their energy efficiency.
But we want to go further than just saving electricity, and expand the potential for our schools to generate it.
We have already received applications from 50 schools for permission to install their own solar PV systems, and will continue to support schools to take these steps to secure their energy supply.
This year, our department will itself undertake installation of solar PV systems at 10 schools, generating up to 60 kilowatts peak depending on the size of the school and installation.
These installations reduce the schools’ reliance on the electrical grid, while creating a valuable opportunity for them to sell their excess power to the grid.
Finally, we will undertake a test case full installation of solar PV, battery backup and LED lighting at 1 school, to determine whether this kind of package installation is sufficient to provide the electricity a school needs for its core functions, including administration systems and computer labs, and lighting in key areas.
The education system remains under severe pressure, and we need to work together with the private sector to deliver quality education in our province.
So we are building on the success of our collaboration schools programme, and looking into new partnership models to deliver education to poor communities.
We also want to make the Western Cape the most attractive destination for education investment in South Africa.
So to get the job done, we will spend R5 million this year for Wesgro to develop an investment facilitation capability specific to the education sector, to make it easier to invest in new schools and ed tech.
We want to send a clear signal that we are open for business, and want to build strong partnerships with the private sector so that we increase private sector investment in education in the Western Cape.
We are pushing the boundaries with this year’s interventions to improve education in the Western Cape.
But we must also look to the longer-term, and to the structural changes that we need to make to improve learning outcomes for the children of our province.
To get the job done, we have asked the World Bank to undertake an Education Sector Analysis, which will support us to set long-term priorities to improve education outcomes in the Western Cape.
The central goal of everything we do must be delivering better learning outcomes for our children.
So, I would like to thank the staff of the Western Cape Education Department, under the leadership of our Superintendent-General, Mr Brent Walters, for their outstanding commitment to getting the job done, and look forward to us building on the hard work we have done and will do in the coming year.
We have to take action,
To reverse learning losses,
To rapidly expand access to education,
To improve support to learners with special needs,
To create pathways to work,
To make our schools safer,
And to make our schools more energy resilient,
And this budget is going to get the job done.
Spokesperson to Minister David Maynier
Western Cape Ministry of Education