Western Cape Government Education Budget Vote 2019/2020
Speech by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education Western Cape
Madam Speaker, over the last five years it has been my privilege to work with this Cabinet and the Western Cape Education Department in improving education outcomes in this province. I am proud of what we have, together, achieved.
As a government, we are committed to ensuring a quality education for every learner, in every classroom and in every school in our province.
This is given expression through three overarching strategic goals, which have all improved, namely:
- An improvement in the level of language and mathematics at schools
- An increase in the number and quality of passes in the National Senior Certificate and;
- An increase in the quality of education provision in poorer communities
So let’s take a quick look at these improvements:
Since I took office in 2014, there has been an improvement in grade 3, 6 and 9 in both maths and language. And I am particularly proud of schools that have worked hard to achieve excellent results, some in very difficult circumstances.
In mathematics, when we compare results from 2014 to 2018, the grade 3 learners’ pass rate improved by 2.6%, grade 6 by an impressive 12% and grade 9’s by 8.1%.
In languages, when we compare results from 2014 to 2018, the grade 3 learners’ pass rate improved by 3.4%, grade 6 learners by 0.6% and grade 9’s by 5%.
I am also pleased that we have seen a steady overall improvement in the 2018 systemic tests, when comparing them with the results of the baseline tests in 2011.
In addition, I am especially proud that in the category of “Excellence in Academic Performance in Mathematics: Grades 3 and 6”, all three top positions were won by schools from previously disadvantaged communities in Gugulethu and Phillippi. These schools are Zanemfundo Primary, Siyazakha Primary and Sonwabo Primary.
Moving on to our matric results – the results over the last five years of this administration have built on the progress of our previous administration. Since the DA took over in 2009, we have seen significant improvements in all quality indicators.
The total percentage of candidates who passed matric has increased from 75.7% in 2009 to 81.5% in 2018 - an increase of 5.8%.
Our key quality indicators reflect the same trend:
- Since 2009, the Bachelor pass rate has increased from 31.9% to 42.3% - a remarkable increase of 10.4%
- The maths pass rate has increased from 64.9% in 2009 to 76% in 2018 – an increase of 11.1%
- The Physical Science pass rate increased from 52.9% in 2009 to 79% in 2018 – an impressive increase of 26.1%
- The Western Cape has established itself as the leading province in maths and science results, given that our percentage pass rate performance in the NSC remains in the top three in mathematics and physical science.
- When we took office in 2009, the matric pass rate in Quintile 1 schools (deemed the poorest) was 57.5% - in 2018 it was 70.5%. Pass rate increases of 10.6% in Quintile 2 and 15.6% in Quintile 3 schools during the same period were also recorded.
- The proportion of Bachelors passes in Quintiles 1 – 3 has more than doubled since 2009. This is most significant in Quintile 1, where the bachelors proportion went from 8.7% in 2009 to 24.2% in 2018.
- Only 12% of SA’s population lives in the Western Cape, but 64% of the NSC Special Needs candidates come from the WC
We have achieved these improvements while also improving the retention rate in our schools. Our retention rate from Grades 10 to 12 is the highest in the country, at around 63%.
Madam Speaker, today I present to you the 2019/2020 Budget for the Western Cape Education Department against the backdrop of an economy with slow economic growth and high unemployment, and where the effects of rampant corruption at a national level are felt across the province in all Departments and especially in Education. The WCED however remains vigilant and continues to place emphasis on fiscal consolidation, cost cutting measures as well as streamlining and rationalising projects, whilst remaining committed to our vision of quality education for every learner, in every classroom in every school.
We are committed to improving the lives of our youth, and to giving them the best possible opportunities in life.
In order to be able to do this, and deal with the ongoing pressures we face, we need a mindset change. We can no longer continue with “business as usual”. I am therefore pleased with the evident shift in culture in the WCED over the past two years. The WCED is aiming to be a values-driven organization and has identified “Values-Driven learning” as a key theme for our five-year plan to change the mindset of teachers as well as learners. Part of this is to instil respect for each other. This theme focuses on the six values of the Western Cape Government. Schools have been asked to identify 12 values that symbolise and characterise the values that they want to espouse and then showcase these values in various ways.
In 2017 under the theme “Values Driven Learning” we celebrated the Year of the Teacher which sought to raise the status of teachers and gain the respect due to them by learners, parents and communities. In 2018, the theme adopted was “the Year of Values Driven Learning” which helped strengthen the province’s culture of excellence in teaching and learning. This year we are focusing on the “Year of The Learner” where all our efforts are focused on preparing them for successful lives and to ensure that they become valuable contributors to society. I am proud of this initiative and what we have managed to achieve so far.
Madam Speaker, I must congratulate our CFO, Leon Ely, and his Finance team for once again achieving a clean audit for the fourth consecutive year for the 2017/18 financial year. This is almost unheard of in education, so very well done.
Earlier this month, the Provincial Minister of Finance announced that, for the 2019/ 20 financial year, the WCED will receive an amount of R23 669 billion.
This represents an increase of R1.519 billion from the previous financial year.
The bulk of the Department’s funding is for Programme 2, Public ordinary school education, with an allocation of 75% of the budget. This is followed by Programme 6 Infrastructure Development, with an allocation of over R1. 758 billion which equates to 7.43% of the budget.
In the Western Cape, 5.66% of the budget is allocated to Special Needs, 6.6% to Administration and 2.76% will be allocated to Early Childhood Development in Grade R.
The national government’s decision to move ECD to education is going to have huge financial implications, both for staff and infrastructure, and I have raised this at our CEM meeting. Any move will have to be accompanied by a substantial financial investment, which is unlikely, because the ANC has wasted and stolen most of our money.
Provision in poorer communities
The WCED’s vision will only be attainable if we decrease the inequality gap between our rich and poorer schools.
As a result of our history, there still remain disparities between poorer and wealthier communities. One of our greatest challenges is how to provide efficient and equitable access to education.
As a Department and as a DA government, we have placed a huge emphasis on improving education in our poorer communities with a focus on pro-poor initiatives such as learner transport, school feeding, fee exemption and compensation.
Learner transport and hostels
One of the WCED’s biggest cost drivers is learner transport.
In order to assist learners that do not have the required funding or mechanisms to get to their schools, the WCED has a learner transport scheme in place. With increased growth in our Province, this has led to an increased demand for this service.
In 2019, 61 602 learners are being transported to 473 schools in the Western Cape.
The budget allocated to this pro-poor initiative has increased significantly. In 2014, the WCED spent R268 million on learner transport. This figure has increased by over 57%. In the 2019/2020 year, over R422 million has been budgeted for this programme.
In MTEC discussions earlier this year, we discussed the possibility of changing the learner school transport policy to provide transport for children living further than 4km from their school, instead of the national policy of 5km, for primary school children. Unfortunately, because of inadequate funding from the National Treasury for additional learners from other provinces, we had to prioritise all funding for additional educator posts.
If only we could have had some of that never-ending bailout money for failed State Owned Enterprises, we could have done so much more for our poorer learners.
In addition, the WCED has allocated over R45 million to subsidise hostel accommodation for learners, as this not only reduces the transport costs of the Department, but provides other benefits for learners, such as a safe learning environment for homework, access to after school curricular activities and academic support. Learners also receive meals which reduce costs of living for parents at home, for food, electricity and water.
Tough economic times are leading to a growing number of parents who simply cannot afford to pay school fees. This puts a massive financial strain on fee-paying schools relying on the collection of fees to sustain their daily running costs.
In 2019/2020 the WCED budgeted in excess of R58 million for fee exemption, far exceeding any other province in this pro-poor policy.
Every child has a right to education and we are very pleased that we can assist these schools with this kind of compensation, as well as assist our parents who are struggling to make ends meet.
It is also a way to assist our fee paying schools that accept learners that subsequently cannot pay school fees.
Assisting our poorer learners in Quintile 4 and 5 schools.
Many of our schools in the Western Cape are classified as Quintile 4 and 5 schools (fee paying), which are supposed to be wealthy, but the reality is that they are attended by an increasing number of poorer learners.
In the absence of the National Government changing the quintile policy, despite repeated requests, we have had to dig even further into our limited funds to assist these schools.
In addition to fee compensation, in 2013 the WCED offered certain public schools serving poorer communities the option to apply for No-Fee Status.
In the 2019/20 financial year, we continue to support 224 schools that have been declared no-fee schools through our own funding mechanisms. In the 2019/20 FY, we have allocated in excess of R275 million to assist our no fee quintile 4 and 5 schools.
There are currently 574 public ordinary fee paying schools in the Western Cape. In 2018/ 19 the WCED paid out fee compensation to 552 of these schools. This means that the WCED is assisting 96% of fee paying schools.
The WCED has also reached out to its remaining fee-charging schools, by topping up their Norms and Standards allocation in order for the schools to at least have the same income base as a no-fee school and to remain financially viable. 98 schools benefit from this pro-poor policy.
Madam Speaker, it is a sad reality that many children in South Africa arrive at school daily with an empty stomach. This is why the Western Cape Government is committed to ensuring that our poorer learners receive not just one, but two, nutritious meals at school every day. The School Nutrition Programme feeds more than 401 657 learners from 691 schools. The amount allocated to the feeding programme for the 2019/20 financial year is more than R385 million. In addition, we continue to feed 78 140 learners in 317 Quintile 4-5 schools that serve poorer communities, as well as 26 507 children in the after-school programme to ensure that our poorer learners are able to participate.
Various studies show that the Western Cape is showing the greatest progress in transforming education in poor communities. We are positive that many of our pro-poor policies have contributed significantly to this progress.
We are making these kinds of investments, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because affording children access to quality education, which while not sufficient on its own, is a key contributing factor to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Improving School Infrastructure
Madam Speaker, more than 113 000 learners have relocated to the Western Cape since 2014, with an additional 20 000 learners arriving for the start of the 2019 academic year.
Each learner that enters the province costs the department around R15 500 for a primary school learner and R18 700 for a high school learner, per year excluding infrastructure costs. The cost over the last 5 years is more than R1.84 billion, and for this year alone is an estimated R596 million. But the funding from the National Treasury does not follow the learners. The necessary Equitable Share from the national budget should be commensurate with up to date learner numbers and compensate for the many years it has not kept pace with the increased numbers.
To accommodate this growth in numbers, we are building schools and additional classrooms but we cannot keep up with the demand without adequate funding.
Since 2009, we have completed 131 schools and this year we will see the completion of 11 schools.
In order to accommodate the additional 20 000 extra learners this year alone, we effectively need another 20 new schools, which cost around R60 – R75 million per school. This totals around R1,5 billion. Given that we have similar numbers every year, we require that kind of budget every year JUST for new schools. Given that we still have backlogs in our existing infrastructure requirements, as well as that we have to maintain our existing infrastructure, it is quite obvious that the amount allocated is insufficient. And then there is teachers, feeding, transports and so on.
In 2019/ 2020, we will again be investing a large allocation towards school infrastructure to meet the growing demand for schooling in the province, as well as to replace schools built with inappropriate materials.
The allocation towards Infrastructure projects is an amount of over R1.7 billion, which includes new and replacement schools, upgrading and additions, and refurbishment and rehabilitation of our schools.
Maintenance of our existing schools also remains a priority, with many of our poorer schools unable to keep up with maintenance and repairs. R636 million will be allocated towards maintenance in schools.
We are also struggling after having to redirect approximately R300m last year from maintenance to drought mitigation measures.
Special Needs Education
Madam Speaker, another priority for the WCED is to provide for our learners with special needs, for which there is also an increasing demand.
This year we have allocated over R1.3 billion to Special Needs Education, to accommodate the increasing need. The Western Cape is the leading province when it comes to the provision of special needs education but here again, we are feeling an increased pressure as families are literally moving across the country to find place for their children in our schools.
There are currently around 20 000 learners in the province’s 71 Public Special Schools, with an additional 75 learners in the School of Skills Year 1 programme at Silverstream School, which we have started this year as part of the Manenberg upgrade.
The Western Cape Education Department provides different levels of support depending on the special educational need identified, in line with national policy on inclusive education.
The department identifies learners needing low, moderate and high levels of support and provides appropriate support to these needs, in line with policy.
We cater for learners needing low levels of support in mainstream public schools with the support of our 27 outreach teams that operate from Special School Resource Centres. Many special schools also operate as resource centres that support full-service and mainstream ordinary schools.
We have also established full-service ordinary schools that cater for learners with moderate needs. We cater for learners with high levels of need in special schools. These include schools for the blind, deaf, physically disabled and those with severe intellectual impairments.
Teacher training initiatives
Madam Speaker, the ongoing professional development of our educators is of the utmost importance, and we will be investing over R106 million this year.
The WCED’s Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute continues to offer training in a variety of courses.
There is also a recent focus on “Values Conversations” in schools as part of the Transform to Perform strategy.
In all interventions offered at CTLI, there is a strong ICT integration approach. The ICT Integration Unit at the CTLI delivers ICT integration interventions for teachers, school leaders and curriculum support officials. ICT Training is pitched at three levels; Novice, Intermediate and Advanced to accommodate teachers’ varying ICT competence levels. ICT infrastructure and training content are continually being improved to keep track with the latest developments in the ICT in education field. A new focus is being developed which will research future technology trends and showcase the latest technologies in an ‘ICT Playpark for Teacher’.
Madam Speaker, the Premier in her SOPA address elaborated on the eLearning Game Changer and exactly what we would have achieved by the end of this term.
So I will simply say that the WCED has invested over R239 million towards e-learning in the 2019/ 2020 financial year.
Key elements include a high-speed internet connectivity, wide area network (WAN) linking schools across the province and local area networks (LANS) in schools that connect to the WAN.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted that after more than two years, the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill was passed by this House in November last year.
The Bill constitutes the biggest public education reform since 1994, and is designed to achieve excellence in education, through improving the assessment of teaching and learning in the classroom, and school functioning as a whole. These assessments will be published for parents and communities to see, to increase transparency and accountability.
The Bill is innovative, in that it represents a real exercise of a province’s concurrent legislative competence in basic education – which many seem to forget that we have.
Of course, SADTU is now challenging it in court, which we will vigorously oppose.
We continue to make pleasing progress in our Collaboration Schools project. Indications are that it is bringing improved education to poor communities, to which we are absolutely committed. We now have 11 schools as part of this project, with another new school joining in April this year.
Since the inception of the new model, the results of the systemic tests as well as the NSC results at these schools have increased significantly. Special mention must be made of Langa High School. For the last few years, the school’s matric results have been unacceptably low – in 2015 it had a 41.9% pass rate. in 2016, it dropped to 34.3%. We decided to approach the school about becoming one of our new collaboration schools in 2017. After quite a lot of scepticism, it was agreed.
In the 2017 NSC they achieved 49.7% and in 2018 they achieved a 78% pass rate! Again, well done to all involved! It is once again becoming a school of choice and pride.
I hope now that the Amendment Bill has passed, and given the successful pilot, that we can motivate for additional funders to come on board so that more of our schools that accommodate learners from disadvantaged backgrounds may benefit from this exciting new model of schooling.
SADTU is also opposing this provision of our Bill in court, saying that there is no evidence that these schools work. We beg to differ.
School Evaluations Authority
Regarding the School Evaluations Authority, last month we gazetted the Draft Regulations pertaining to the SEA for public comment. This is an exciting development since the bill was passed last year.
The closing date for comments was the 18th March.
As soon as the Regulations are finalised we shall advertise for the Chief Evaluator to be appointed.
The Premier also published a proclamation on 27th February 2019 putting into effect certain sections of the bill including the classroom observation, so anybody who prevents this will be acting illegally.
SADTU seems to regard it as urgent that this be stopped. I have to wonder why.
School Safety/ Safe Schools
A Safe learning environment is a critical requirement for quality teaching and learning to take place.
The WCED implements various strategies to address school violence and safety. Unfortunately, many of the safety risks are a result of community and gang violence which affects the safety environment of our schools. A few weeks ago, it was highlighted that just this year there have been 17 reported stabbing incidents at Western Cape schools, many of which were gang related. It is devastating that the anti-gang unit of the SAPS appears to be making little impact, thus leaving these issues to be dealt with by our teachers.
As I have said before, the WCG has a vast number of initiatives that we have undertaken transversally to try and curb gang violence in our schools and we are doing as much as we can as an education department to try and protect our schools, but we simply do not have the legislative mandate, security manpower or budget to guarantee learner safety from gang violence.
I am excited about the development of the Risk Classification Tool that will allow us to identify and classify existing and emerging safety risks so that the relevant security infrastructure and other resources are deployed when and where most needed, and I hope to see it properly implemented soon.
I have spoken at nauseam about what we have been doing and our Chief Director, Alan Meyer continues to Chair the School Safety Committee.
The City of Cape Town has been extremely helpful to us, especially in respect of the school resource officers (SROs) which also assist to alleviate the struggles faced by the Department in dealing with school violence, particularly where there is a high rate of gangsterism. We have 53 schools involved, with 136 School Resource Officers. The role these officers play in our schools is absolutely significant. Not only do they have the skills to react to certain emergency situations but they also provide a sense of safety and protection.
We are also linking schools’ burglar alarms to the City’s Traffic Management Centre (TMC), where they can be monitored and, in cases of need, the Metro Polices’ Response Unit can assist.
This has been necessary as a result of the lack of response of some private companies that have been paid by schools, and lack of maintenance by schools of their alarms.
The plan is in the early stages, but also has great potential.
In addition, we now have a Safe Schools officer permanently stationed at the TMC, which is assisting in better co-ordinating responses to the relevant role-players in the case of any incident at schools.
I am also excited about a new partnership with a corporate company, which has resulted in a security solution being piloted at four schools in the Metro area. This includes access control, biometric data to ensure that there is control over who enters and leaves school premises, and use of artificial intelligence to alert principals and anyone monitoring school premises to any unusual activity on or outside the school premises.
This has the potential to be a very exciting innovation in school safety. I will be announcing more on this next month.
We have allocated R112.518 million over the 2019 MTEF to school safety initiatives.
This will include the installation of secure perimeter fencing, restricted electronic access, monitored alarm systems, Safe Schools Call Centre, Walking Bus programme, Security Resilience Scorecard, and strategic partnerships between schools and communities.
While this funding will not necessarily end violence in and around our schools it will be used to provide and reinforce targeted security infrastructure support to schools.
Unfortunately, despite the additional security support and enforcement, some of our schools still fall victim to vandalism and burglaries. In 2019/ 2020, R30 million has been allocated to the Emergency Maintenance Fund which will assist in repairing schools affected by burglary and vandalism.
Madam Speaker, we still have a long way to go, but progress to date is undeniable.
I must pay tribute to the SG, Brian Schreuder, our EXCO, and our committed teams, for their constructive and innovative approach and ongoing commitment to the learners of the Western Cape. I also want to pay tribute to all our educators who give so much of themselves to improve the opportunities for others, and for their support and understanding in these difficult financial times.
It has been a real pleasure working with you all over the last five years. Thank you for your support.
I must also thank the members of the Standing Committee for their oversight and for holding us accountable.
Thank you to the Premier for giving me the privilege of serving the Western Cape in this crucial position, and my Cabinet Colleagues for their collegiality over the last five years.
Last but not least, thank you to my office staff, without whom I would not be able to do what I do. Thanks to Bronagh Hammond who headed my office for the first four years, and Anne Schlebusch who stepped in last year after she “retired” from the department. A big thanks also to Jessica Shelver, who has done an amazing job as my spokesperson. Also to Thandazwa Ntshonga, Debbie Lewis, Audrey Frazenburg, Irene King, Nomonde Mbali, Neliswa Bokwana and Lynn Coleridge-Zils. We have been a great team.
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