Western Cape schools bursting at the seams

1 February 2019

Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer

The WCED has received and collated enrolment figures for the 2019 school year.

As it stands, the schooling system in this Province has increased by 18 285 learners compared to last year, 16 285 of which are from outside the Province.

So realistically, to accommodate this growth, we would need approximately 15 new additional schools and over 480 teachers.

Today, we have approximately 5 700 unplaced learners.

5 510 learners applied late, after last year’s application period had closed.

We expect more new late applications in the coming two weeks.

We do encourage parents who plan to move to the Western Cape not to deregister their child/ children from their current schools before making sure that there is a place at a school in the Western Cape. 

Officials of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) are working closely with schools to accommodate learners still looking for places in schools in the province.

To accommodate growth, the WCED ordered additional mobile classrooms last year and has subsequently ordered an additional 70 mobile classrooms this week once learner numbers had been confirmed. 

In addition, the WCED completed 6 schools last year (2018). Another new school will be completed by April 2019 and three (3) mobile schools have also been completed to accommodate additional growth in hotspot areas. 46 additional mobile classrooms have been erected in areas identified for growth, as well as, 34 brick and mortar classrooms.

10 mobile classrooms are also being placed at various special schools to accommodate learners.

In 2019, we will see the completion of 4 new schools, 2 replacement schools and 5 new mobile schools. We are also completing the building of 24 MOLADI, an alternative building technology, classrooms at 7 schools.

But even with all this delivery – it is simply not enough to keep up with the demand for place in Western Cape schools. And the procurement and erection of mobile classrooms is not an overnight process.

More than 130 000 learners have moved to the Western Cape from other provinces over the past five years, mainly from the Eastern Cape, placing the education system in the Western Cape under considerable pressure. One of the challenges arises when people move to the province without planning in advance or without enrolling their children at a school. It therefore makes it impossible for the WCED to foresee and plan accordingly. 

However, that is not the only issue.  Further issues that affect us greatly are:

  1. The money does not follow the learners.  National Treasury has not responded adequately with financial adjustments to accommodate these learners.
  2. National wage negotiations every three years are done by national government, yet the money to fund those increases is not given to the provinces. The impact of this has been R1.3bn over the previous MTEF. Clearly this has had a significant impact on our ability to deliver the kind of service our residents deserve and we want to give them. 

These factors affect everyone, because we have to stretch existing resources thinly over the whole system. The strain this places on our schools is immense, and forces us to change the plans we have  made.

As a result of the dire economic situation of the country, in large part because of state capture and large-scale looting, we have also had decreases in our budget allocations over the last few years.  Last year’s drought caused us to divert R300m from our infrastructure budget to plan for continuation of schools in the event of Day Zero.

It is no secret that under a DA-led Government, life is better. This is evident from the large number of learners that arrive in the Western Cape at the start of every school year as individuals choose to move to the Western Cape in search of freedom, fairness and job opportunities, with a better education for their children.

But the reality is that we are suffering as a result of the incapability of the state at a national level.  Unless we are provided with more money and more capacity to fulfil our mandate, we cannot keep up with the demand that is being placed on this Province. 

It is unacceptable that we have been receiving funding based on out-dated information.  While there has been some progress in this regard, over the last number of years we have simply not been compensated for the additional numbers, whilst other provinces have been cushioned from the effects of losing people.

Our commitment is to provide the best quality education for every child, in every classroom and in every school in our province, but the challenges of doing this within budget frameworks are immense.

Media Enquiries:
Jessica Shelver
Cell: 076 175 0663
Email: Jessica.Shelver@westerncape.gov.za