Expanding Access to Quality Education
A key priority for this government is to improve learner outcomes in this Province.
To achieve this objective, the Western Cape Education Department has undertaken a two-pronged approach to improve learner outcomes. The first approach is to assist and support our underperforming schools. Interventions include increased educator support, the delivery of additional resources and the improvement of school infrastructure.
While these interventions will see benefits in the medium-term, a more short term approach to ensure better learner outcomes needed to be taken.
Therefore, it was decided there was a need to expand access to quality education, which is the cornerstone of the opportunity society.
This would ensure that more learners would be given the opportunity to pass their matric and would see more learners reading, writing and calculating at the required levels.
At the beginning of the year the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) approached a number of our schools to determine how best to expand access at successful schools. It was then decided that the most cost-effective and immediate solution was to build additional classrooms at various schools in the Cape Town metropole. However, the schools selected had to have had consistently achieved good academic results, as well as, have a high learner admission rate and demand each school year.
Feedback from our principals and governing bodies on the initial plan was positive, and the WCED then chose nineteen (19) schools to participate in the first phase roll-out of the 'classroom expansion plan'.
The main objective of the classroom expansion plan is to ensure that learners from a diversity of backgrounds, most especially from disadvantaged communities, are given an increased opportunity to gain entry into some of our province's successful schools, therefore, expanding access to quality education by expanding the necessary infrastructure at each school.
To date, an additional one hundred and seven (107) classrooms are either currently under construction or are in the final stages of design and planning, and are all due for completion between January and July 2011.
Once this first phase is completed, there will be an additional one hundred and seven (107) classrooms, benefitting three thousand seven hundred (3 700) learners across nineteen (19) successful city schools.
It must be noted that had the Department built four new schools to accommodate the same amount of learners, the costs would be significantly higher. By undertaking to expand access to these schools with additional classrooms, the Department would be accommodating learners at a rate that is forty percent (40%) cheaper.
The cost of this phase of the plan is approximately seventy (R70 m) million rand; however, if we were to build four new schools, the cost would amount to around one hundred and twenty (R120 m) million rand. Therefore, by undertaking to expand access to these schools with additional classrooms, the Department will make a saving of approximately fifty (R50 m) million rand. The saving made can in turn be used to fund other aspects of the WCED's infrastructure improvement plan.
Funding has been made available to each school to build themselves the additional classrooms, and the Department is closely monitoring and auditing this process.
Each of the schools that admit more then thirty-three (37) learners for each classroom will be allocated an additional educator post if it is required, and a full set of textbooks for that grade will be delivered.
This plan forms part of our one point nine (R1.9 b) billion rand, infrastructure plan, which, includes the building of twenty-five (25) new schools over the current Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the replacement of twenty (20) schools that were built with inappropriate materials, and the already successful installation of over one hundred and forty-five (145) mobile classrooms at schools where there was severe overcrowding.
The classroom expansion plan is an excellent example of a partnership between the department and our schools to fulfill our mutual objectives of providing a safe and secure learning environment for all our learners. It will also offset some of the need to build new schools and, most importantly, expand access to quality education, thus ensuring that more children are given the opportunity to excel academically.
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 467 2377
Cell: 072 724 1422