Additional Funding for Public Schools Serving Poorer Communities
Media Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Education
I am pleased to announce that I have approved proposals made by the Western Cape Education Department that will result in additional funding for public schools serving poorer communities.
This includes the utilisation of finances made available to equalise the per learner amounts to be paid to public schools in National Quintiles 1, 2 and 3 from the 2013/2014 financial year.
At the same time it will also include an increase in the per learner amounts to be paid to over 300 fee-paying schools serving less affluent communities.
All schools in National Quintiles 1, 2 and 3 are no-fee schools, while schools in National Quintiles 4 and 5 are fee-paying schools.
I believe that both of the above proposals are important new measures additional to the various initiatives already taken by this government in redressing the impact of poverty in our public schools.
Equalisation of Per Learner Subsidies to National Quintile 1, 2 and 3 Schools
Currently schools in National Quintile 1 receive R960 per learner and schools in National Quintiles 2 and 3 receive R880 per learner.
The proposal, approved by me, will see schools in all three National Quintiles receiving the same increased amount of R1 010 per learner in 2013/2014.
This equalised amount is planned to increase again in the following financial years.
As the schools in National Quintiles 1-3 have all been declared no fee-schools and therefore have to rely upon voluntary fundraising efforts for any additional funding, the increased norms and standards payments by the WCED are of great significance.
Properly used these additional funds can contribute meaningfully to improving resources critical to the teaching and learning experience at these schools, thereby improving the quality of education at these schools.
The cost of the equalisation of these per learner amounts in National Quintiles 1-3 will be R24 million in 2013/2014 and R26 million in 2014/2015.
Increased Funding to over 300 Fee-Paying Schools Serving Less Affluent Communities
In addition to the proposals above, I have given my approval to utilise the balance of the funds that have been made available to increase funding at over 300 fee-paying schools serving less affluent communities.
Once the department has implemented in 2013/2014 the equalisation of per learner subsidies in National Quintiles 1-3, there will be over 300 fee-paying schools where the total of the fees charged and the per learner norms and standards funding will still be less than the revised amount of R1 010 per learner allocated to the National Quintiles 1-3 schools by the WCED.
To narrow the gap between these schools I have therefore given my approval to make available, as far as the finances allow, additional funds for over 300 fee-paying schools.
In 2013/2014 this gap will be reduced by approximately 25% and in 2014/2015 by as much as 73%. The cost of these allocations per year will be to the value of R18 million and R53 million respectively.
Once again, the additional financial support given to these schools can be of the upmost importance in improving resources for learning and teaching.
Increased Budget for Fee Compensation
While the above steps are important poverty redress measures of a caring school system, 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.
I have consistently argued that it is unrealistic to expect National Quintile 4 and 5 schools to fund themselves at a significant level if there is no compensation for legally determined fee exemptions.
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 in 2010. As a result, in 2011, the Western Cape Education Department paid out over R20 million in compensation for fee exemptions to our fee-paying schools.
This year we have increased this allocation significantly by allocating R43 million to help assist our schools with fee exemptions.
The amount allocated for this purpose is the highest in the country.
The Western Cape Education Department is also the only provincial Education department to have developed an electronic system for schools to submit the required information.
This will allow the department to process the claims more efficiently giving the Head of Department ample time to inform schools of whether they qualify for compensation before the deadline of 30 September of each year.
For 2011/2012, the first year of implementation of this policy, 779 schools in the Western Cape qualified to submit claims. A total of 508 schools submitted claims involving 48 000 learners and an amount of R21 million was paid to these schools.
We expect further increases in the overall total of compensation to schools this year, as schools come to understand the benefit of submitting these claims and as the economic climate makes further inroads into parents' ability to meet their fee commitments.
This again shows that the WCED is prioritising the education needs of all our learners, particularly those from our poorer communities.