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22 September 2014
   
 
 
 
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Speaker
Honourable Premier
Fellow Members of Cabinet
The Honourable Leader of the Opposition
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 2013/14 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 Diya Reddy, Vice Chair of that Council.

Thank you for joining us today.

I also want to mention as special guests – three of our four educators who were recently awarded prizes in the National Teaching Awards. They are:

Mr Ismail Teladia, from Spine Road High School, Mr Warren Sparrow from Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School and Ms Melanie Van de Jar, from Cedar HS. In abstentia, I would also like to acknowledge our fourth recipient Mr Derick Petersen from Imizamo Yethu Secondary School who won an award for secondary school leadership.

I would also like to welcome Sam Christie and Palesa Nkabane of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

In 2009, when we tabled our strategic plan, I indicated that we were being realistic about the scope of the challenges in education facing us as a government. There would be no silver bullet and we committed ourselves to applying principles of good management and best practice to everything we do, so that we do the right things, within budget and on time. Steady and sustainable improvement would be the order of the day.

I also said that the focus of this government would be on the learner in the classroom.

Four years later, our focus remains the same. Today’s budget is motivated by what is in the best interests of the learners so that we can improve their life chances and create opportunities for them through the provision of quality education. This approach was reflected in our Strategic Plan which encompasses a sustained, focused and systematic approach to improving education. Although this plan has been our guide we have not shied away from introducing further refinements as they have become necessary. No system involving a million children can be static year after year.

We have seen in the past how sudden changes in policy can damage the education system. Education needs stability and a sustainable long-term plan. It needs systematic, clear and sometimes bold change, not short-term projects, interventions and ill-conceived cash injections. 

Speaker, the Honourable Members need look no further than the changes made to the national curriculum in the early years of our democracy to find an example of the damage which can be done to the future of our young people and the professional pride of our educators through bad planning and poor implementation. For a while confusion and disruption in the system were the order of the day, impacting directly on the outcomes of the system.

Fortunately, much of this in the curriculum field is now a thing of the past and the more realistic implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) has proved to be clearer and more manageable.

We can confidently say that we have established, in the last four years, the foundation necessary to achieve our objectives and those described more recently in the National Development Plan. We have managed to weed out policies that were not working, introduce new ones and fine-tune successful ones every year.

What we have now today is a maturing provincial education system which has responded positively to a number of systems improvements.

This year, together with the second-year roll-out of CAPS we plan to further deepen and strengthen these strategies – re-enforcing the strategies we have developed since November 2009 and ensuring  stability in the system so that ultimately our focus can remain on and improve the lives of those most important of people – the learners.

Speaker – in its efforts to deliver the best possible education to our learners the WCED does not work on its own. It cooperates with its sister departments in this Government wherever possible and appropriate. Examples of this transversal approach are to be found in our involvement in the programmes offered at the MOD centres by DCAS, in the role out of the Integrated School Health Programme in our schools by the Department of Health and in the support we receive from the Departments of Community Safety and Social Development in supporting the wellbeing of our learners.

In addition, the WCED has entered into a number of agreements with various organisations to enhance the services it delivers in the interests of quality education. Recently, the WCED signed an agreement with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation aimed at improving learning outcomes through the use of financial incentives and school performance data. The Foundation has allocated R16 million for use in 24 project schools, in addition to the WCED’s investment in incentives and rewards.

The budget

Speaker, 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 investment in education of R49 billion.

The department will receive R15.6 billion for the 2013/14 financial year. This is an increase of over R1.3 billion from the previous financial year which had an allocation of over R14 billion.

Public ordinary school education will continue to be the main focus of the Department’s funding with an allocation of 72% of the budget.

R37.9 million will be allocated to Adult Basic Education and R351.4 million to our six FET Colleges.

The Western Cape already leads the country in the provision of Special Needs Education.

In the Western Cape, 5.7% of the budget is allocated to Special Needs, which amounts to R894.7 million. This represents an increase of R43 million from last year.

How does this budget allocation affect learners?

As is the case in all large public school systems the majority of the budget will be spent on our educators. They remain our most important asset as they are responsible for ensuring that our learners receive the best quality tuition and a fair chance to live the lives that they deserve.

In 2013/14 financial year we have allocated R 9.9 billion to teacher salaries.

Educator Training remains a key component of our strategy as it directly impacts the delivery of the curriculum to the learner. Since 2009, we have developed a sustainable and comprehensive programme for educators which include various specialised courses and support programmes at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute such as ICT proficiency, special needs education, training for aspiring school principals, literacy and numeracy workshops and subject-specific training for various grades.

The teacher component of training and development has increased from R79 million in 2009/10 to R112 in 2013/14.

In 2013, the WCED will train teachers of Grades 7 – 9 and Grade 12, for the introduction of the CAPS in these grades in 2014. 250 schools will also receive training and school-based support in Language and Mathematics development as well as additional readers and learning support materials as part of our 8 year training and support plan.

While it is important that we continually help capacitate those educators that are not performing or wish to improve, we also need to give them targets which they can be motivated to achieve.

In 2012, the WCED introduced the electronic “School Improvement Plan” (SIP), which required schools to set targets and develop plans for improvement of language and mathematics in Grades 1 to 9 and all subjects offered in Grades 10 to 12. In 2013, the SIP has been streamlined and again all schools have set targets and developed plans for improved learning outcomes. These targets and plans will be monitored quarterly and where required the department will provide appropriate, differentiated support to teachers and school management teams.

The SIPS will also allow us to monitor absenteeism trends. A key priority for the Western Cape Government is the protection of teaching and learning time, and we believe that there has been a positive shift in attitude by our educators and principals in subscribing to this principle. 

In the Western Cape, the latest reports reveal that educators are absent, on average, 5 days a year. This is well below the National average which is 19 days per year.

Speaker, this government believes that hard work should be recognised and progress rewarded. If a school produces improved results – it ultimately means that our learners’ skills sets and opportunities are growing. Therefore, we want to reward our schools and incentivise them to continue this improvement.

Last year we launched an incentive programme that rewards primary schools that have improved the number and quality of passes in the Grade 3 and 6 language and mathematics systemic tests. R25 million was allocated to this incentive programme. In the 2013/14 financial year a further R30 million will be allocated towards this programme and distributed to schools to spend on maintenance or items that enhance their capacity to deliver a quality education to our learners.

Speaker, if we discount educator salaries, the majority of the remaining proportion of this budget goes towards allocations which directly impact the learner. In fact, the majority of these allocations affect our poorer learners, with the poorer 60% of our school population receiving the greater allocations in terms of important indicators such as norms and standards funding, school feeding, new infrastructure and learner transport.

This is in line with the Western Cape Government’s policy in opening opportunities for people in poor communities, through education, health services, housing and social development programmes and is reflected in the overall budget of the Western Cape, with 76% of the Western Cape annual budget being directed towards poorer communities. 

I am pleased that in this financial year we will see the implementation of approved proposals by the WCED that will result in additional funding for public schools serving poorer communities.

In 2013/14 no-fee schools in National Quintiles 1 – 3 will receive the same increased amount of R1 010 per learner which will contribute meaningfully to improving resources critical to the teaching and learning experience at these schools, improving the quality of education and ultimately improving opportunities for the learner. The cost of the equalisation of these per learner amounts in National Quintiles 1-3 will be R24 million in 2013/14 and R26 million in 2014/15.

In addition, the Western Cape Education Department will increase funding at over 300 fee-paying schools serving less affluent communities. These fee-paying schools currently receive less than R1 010. Therefore the Department will reduce this gap this year by approximately 25% and in 2014/15 by as much as 73%. The cost of these allocations per year will be to the value of R18 million and R53 million respectively. 

It is important to remember that the various amounts described above are in addition to what the WCED pays for the remuneration of staff in government employment at our public schools. 

Speaker, we cannot ignore the fact that we are living in tough economic times in which many parents of poorer learners simply cannot afford to pay their school fees, thus affecting school income at fee-paying schools.

Provision for fee compensation was made possible for the first time in 2011, where fee-paying schools could apply for fee compensation to cover some of the costs of poorer learners who were exempt from paying school fees.  As a result, the WCED paid out over R20 million in 2011 and R31 million in 2012 in compensation for fee exemptions to our fee-paying schools. These amounts were the highest in the country and in the 2013/14 financial year R45.3 million will be made available.

This allocation again shows that the WCED is prioritising the education needs of all our learners, particularly those from our poorer communities.

Speaker, it is a sad reality that many of our learners in this country rely on a meal at school as their only meal of the day.

Over 427 000 learners currently receive a nutritious lunch meal in the Western Cape every day. This programme has expanded year on year, with allocations to the feeding scheme having over doubled since 2009/10, increasing progressively from R112 million to R260 million in 2013/14.

I am very excited to announce, following a pilot in 2012/13, that learners at our feeding scheme schools will receive an additional breakfast meal which will be served five days a week before the start of school each day. This will not only provide more nutrition for our learners but will encourage our learners to arrive early for school, thus potentially decreasing late coming.

In order to help assist over 50 000 learners in our poorer rural areas to get to and from school, we have allocated R222 million for learner transport. 

School Safety is an ongoing concern and challenge for WCED. We want our learners to be able to work and learn in an environment that is safe and secure, but the reality is that community conflict and violence can threaten our learners and schools either directly on the school premises or within the community.

Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to all our educators that work in areas where there is high gang or criminal activity. They attend school, not only having to face their own fears, but to also be confronted with frightened and traumatised young learners affected by violent events.

I would like to honour and thank these educators today, and others in similar circumstances, who work in these very difficult and extreme situations. We admire and value their courageous efforts in trying to create and secure a stable teaching and learning environment for our learners when there is violence and fear within the community and in their schools.

In order to try to protect our schools and our learners further, R25.5 million will be allocated to the Department’s Safe Schools’ programme. This represents an increase over the amount in the previous financial year and will be used to provide targeted support to schools to address issues such as youth development, substance abuse, conflict management and mediation, gangsterism and safety management.

It will also be used to provide core security infrastructure to schools such as alarm systems, safety gates and burglar proofing in order to deter trespassing, burglary and vandalism.

In order to assist with repairing vandalised schools and ensuring that the schools are safe environments for our learners, R20 million will be allocated to the Emergency Maintenance Fund which will assist in repairing schools affected by burglary and vandalism and extreme weather conditions.

Speaker, R3.170 billion will be spent on infrastructure over the MTEF. This will see the completion of 26 new schools, 46 replacement schools, 5 replacement classroom projects and 124 Grade R classrooms.

Therefore a total of 72 new school structures will be built during this period.

This will benefit over 86 000 learners, mainly from our poorer communities, who will be housed and taught in new and improved structures that are conducive to quality teaching and learning.

Furthermore, this plan also envisages shifting maintenance expenditure from its current 17% of the overall infrastructure budget to 40% which will see existing schools receiving a facelift of some sort – improving the environment in which these learners are being taught.

The maintenance plan also envisages day-to-day maintenance by schools, therefore decreasing the need to repair defective stock resulting from neglect and reducing the operational costs of individual schools.

Payments for electricity and water are some of the operational costs that schools need to address. In the last few years, schools have faced increased municipal bills that they cannot afford to pay. In order to assist our schools in clearing this historical debt, the WCED has allocated R30 million in 2013/14 to supplement current expenditure levels on municipal services. Schools are also encouraged to implement appropriate green practices including careful water use management and other conserving maintenance interventions.

Speaker, the implementation of the Premier’s Broadband project at schools will contribute to reducing some of our school’s communication and other operational costs. It will also assist in the delivery of the curriculum through the provisioning of high quality curriculum material and teaching aids, improved communication and remote technical support. In preparation for the roll-out of broadband to our schools the department will continue to invest in appropriate compatible equipment and hardware. There is no need for the WCED to wait for broadband access to be universally available before introducing these devices and making available software to support the curriculum.

Speaker, I have yet to tell you about one of our really significant achievements to date and one that directly impacts our learners and their improvement in outcomes.

I made a commitment in this House two years ago to ensure that all learners  in this province will have in their hands a textbook in every core subject they are taking by the end of 2013/14.

I am pleased to report back to the legislature that we are well on track to fulfilling this commitment. Over R277 million has been invested in this plan in the last two years. Learners have received maths textbooks and readers in Grade 1-3, and textbooks in every core subjects in Grade 4,5,6, 10,11 and 12.

We are now preparing to roll-out the next stage of our plan to include learners in Grades 7 to 9 and further textbooks for Grade12. R175.8 million will be allocated to this third and final roll-out in the next financial year.

We will also be investing R8.4 million in our High School Improvement Plan in 2013/14 which is directed at improving learner outcomes. This plan will focus primarily on improving the performance levels of our Grade 12 learners in the NSC and our underperforming schools.

It cannot be argued even by the opposition that this plan has not been a success. In 2009, 85 schools had achieved less than 60% in the NSC. However, since the adoption of the plan, the number of underperforming schools has consistently declined from 85 to 76 in 2010, 30 in 2011 and 26 in 2012.

The strategy has proved successful and therefore its core interventions will remain the same in 2013. However, certain aspects have been refined and improved to ensure even better results.

Building on this experience and in order to broaden the basis of sound learning outcomes at the earliest stage in our school system the WCED has identified the primary schools that perform at an unacceptable level. These schools have been notified of the need to present improvement plans indicating the steps they will take to reverse declining outcomes. As is the case with High Schools, the WCED will provide appropriate support. 

Improving literacy and numeracy results is a priority for us. The WCED will continue to promote and support a culture of reading, writing and calculating.

Speaker, I have just outlined some of our major budget allocations in education. I think it will be agreed that the focus is primarily on the learner.

But a system will not succeed if all administrative and organisational processes do not work. Therefore we will continue to strengthen and deepen the responsiveness and efficiency of the WCED so that our schools are able to be managed and administered effectively. This will allow our schools to operate smoothly without any disruption to teaching and learning and to ensure that the learners’ classroom time is fully utilised.

In the last three years, we have effected a range of systems improvements to ensure better quality service at the point of delivery. A number of business processes have been automated to allow access to online reporting and monitoring mechanisms.

The SIP, as indicated earlier, for example, is one initiative that will allow the WCED to monitor and assess resources at schools; absenteeism trends; learners on the nutrition programme and the WCED’s learner transport scheme; staff and learner numbers (including past trends and projections); as well as the frequency of meetings with parents to discuss the academic performance of their children.

In addition to this, the WCED has developed the District Management Information System (DMIS), which allows district offices to capture, plan and report on all school visits more efficiently than before. This system increases accountability, reduces the time spent on reporting, facilitates problem-solving and supports service delivery.

Another area of improvement is the acceleration in the filling of teacher vacancies. We now publish vacancy lists up to four times per year to ensure that permanent teacher appointments are made timeously and have introduced, this year, a new online system that will make it much easier for teachers to apply for jobs in the province. This initiative reflects the on-going innovation with which the department seeks to improve the way it recruits staff.

Improved business processes have also led to an improved turnaround time for the appointment of principals, thereby reducing the periods for which the people responsible are in acting positions. By appointing leaders to these management and leadership positions in the school as quickly as possible, we are contributing to a positive school environment and ensuring greater stability within the system.

Speaker, while we have managed to create a smarter and viable system, we do face one major threat which is progressively starting to creep into our school environments.

This threat is individual and organisational self-interests that disrupt teaching and learning in our schools.

Speaker – a public school system is there to provide for the learning needs of young people and to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty and through this to ensure a solid basis for individual development, economic growth and social stability. Public schools are not there for the playing of ideological games and the driving of agendas of people and structures which do not place the best interests of our young people first.

Unfortunately, increasingly we are seeing educators, SGB members, parents, organisations and political parties ignore the primacy of the learner in the education system so as to promote their own interests. Such disruption of teaching and learning time can never be sanctioned by a government serious about the education of its young people.

Speaker – In this regard it is appropriate that I touch on the matter of school closures which attracted much attention during 2012. 

School closures are not about political interests – it is not about protecting jobs – and it is certainly not about race.

It is about the better opportunities the learner will receive at his or her new school.

Two weeks ago, I visited Raithby PS in the Winelands. As many of you recall, Raithby is the school that has accommodated learners from Tonko Bosman PS – a school I decided to close after very careful consideration and due process.
At first the community objected to the departments decision to recommend to me the closing of their school. However, it soon became apparent that the opportunities afforded to the learners at the new school would outweigh the personal ties many had with this school.

So the SGB rejected the offer to be represented in court – and on the 31st of December 2012, Tonko Bosman PS closed.

Speaker, I am sure you are wondering how the learners from Tonko Bosman are coping in their new school? I did, so as mentioned, I visited the school to see for myself.

What I found was a clean, happy school environment where quality teaching and learning is taking place. I met several of the learners from Tonko Bosman and they all told me that they were happy at their new school, have made lots of friends and are enjoying the new facilities such as the computer lab and sports and extra-curricular playing fields.

The move to the new school also meant additional educators for Raithby PS, which has resulted in single grade teaching at the school. Therefore not only have we seen improved opportunities for the Tonko Bosman learners, but for the Raithby learners as well.

We will continue to do all we can to ensure that all our learners are given the best possible education at all times whatever the circumstances.

Speaker – the interim interdict in this matter was handed down on 22 December 2012. The reasons for this interdict finally appeared a week ago on 20 March 2013. While the WCED has, in every way, met all the requirements of the interim interdict handed down to ensure that our learners are not further disadvantaged it is now a matter of public record that I have taken the step of approaching the Constitutional Court to ensure that we are always able to make decisions to the maximum benefit of the learners in our schools.

We are, however, looking forward to the review application in May 2013 on my original decision to close 20 schools, where we believe that the rights of learners to the best we can offer will be acknowledged rather than being denied, as has been the case till now.

Speaker, I end by asking the citizens of the Western Cape to support and respect our learner’s rights to education.

We need, more than ever, a “whole-of-society” approach to tackle the challenges we have in education.

Let us protect and empower our learners by ensuring that their education needs come first, that their schools are safe from vandalism and theft, and that we promote, as a society, reading, writing and calculating, and shun late coming, truancy and anti-social behaviour.

Parents have a large role to play in this and we appeal to them to help the department help their child so that they can be afforded the opportunities in life they deserve.

It is about making education, in the Western Cape, Better Together.

Thank you.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
 
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