Western Cape Government Education Budget Vote 2018/2019
Madam Speaker, before I present the 2018/2019 Budget for Education in the Western Cape, it is my privilege to welcome a number of special guests today, who I will be referring to during the course of my speech, where appropriate.
I would first of all like to acknowledge and welcome the learners here with us today from Tafelsig Secondary School. You are the reason we do what we do in education.
A big welcome to the Chairperson of the Education Council, Mr Bruce Probyn and Vice- Chairperson, Vuyokazi Nomlomo, as well as the other members invited here today. I am always appreciative of your objective, independent and sincere counsel.
Madam Speaker, every year I say that the past year has been an extremely challenging one. This year is no exception. I am desperately looking forward to a year when I can say that we have an increase in our budget in real terms, that will relieve the inordinate pressures that we are facing, but I fear that is not going to happen in my term of office.
But in education we are committed and dedicated 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 these ongoing pressures, we need a mindset change. Which is why the SG is busy rolling out such programmes as part of our "Transform to Perform" strategy, about which more later in the year.
So, in looking for the positive, we can and must draw strength from celebrating the achievements that we continue to attain.
Firstly, I must congratulate our CFO and his Finance team for once again achieving a clean audit for the third consecutive year for the 2016/17 financial year. This is almost unheard of in education, so very well done.
And then there are two more very significant awards that have recently been bestowed on our Department. Head of Department, Brian Schreuder, was recently awarded a Silver Award for 'Best Head of Department' and the WCED was also awarded silver for the 'Best Functioning Provincial Department of the Year', at the national Batho Pele awards. Heartiest congratulations to the whole team, and thank you all for your invaluable contributions.
As if our country's current financial crisis is not enough, we now also have the unprecedented drought to contend with, which is putting additional pressure on our budget.
Over and above that, we continue to see a decline in our budget in real terms. This has resulted in class sizes that are too large and insufficient funding to provide what we should be providing, such as additional educators and classrooms, which we so desperately need.
I have said before what a devastating impact the nationally negotiated wage increases have had on our budget, because the national government did not provide the money to the provinces to pay for what they had agreed to.
The impact of this has been R1.3bn over the previous MTEF, and this year alone an additional amount of R1, 789 billion is required. Clearly this has had a significant impact on our ability to deliver the kind of service our residents deserve.
In addition, we still continue to see increases in the number of learners in Western Cape schools annually, whilst the money does not follow them from National Treasury.
More than 130 000 learners have relocated to the Western Cape over the past five years, costing the department around an additional R1.1 billion in total.
This year alone we have an extra 25 388 learners in our schools, compared to last year, representing an additional cost of about R375 million per year at today's costs, excluding infrastructure.
And as we have to keep cutting into the bone - because we have long since cut to the bone - it is our poorest schools that are affected the most.
Because of the iniquitous national Quintile policy, many schools that have to be classified as quintile 4 or 5, yet in reality serve poor communities, are finding themselves in a dire position because of their own funding constraints and the impact of continued rising poverty. I receive appeals from schools to change their status from fee-paying to non-fee paying, or to change their quintile, which I am very sympathetic to, but there simply isn't the budget.
Also, unless the school falls into Quintiles 1-3, they do not qualify to participate in the National Schools Nutrition Programme, which many desperately need.
In terms of section 39(7) of the South African Schools Act, Minister Motshekga has determined that 60% of all learners in the country should be in quintiles 1 to 3 for 2017. The 2017 National Poverty Distribution Table allowed for 40.3% of Western Cape learners to be allocated to no-fee schools.
But in analysing the figures from around the country, in an attempt to try and understand why we are not being enabled to provide more for our poorer communities, it appears that the national average of learners in Q1-3 schools is 76.8%, and not the prescribed 60%, with Limpopo reporting as high as 96.3% of learners in Q1-3 schools, whereas they are not supposed to exceed 77%, which is already one of the highest in the country.
Instead, the WCED, out of our own allocation, and with no additional funding from National Government, is supporting 218 Quintile 4 schools by making them no-fee 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.
This year we have budgeted in excess of R53 million for fee exemption, far exceeding any other province in this pro-poor policy.
We would love to expand the number of schools in Q1-3, and believe that it is justified. But it is a huge risk for us to take, without an undertaking from national government to provide us with the additional funding to provide, for example, the feeding programme. If other provinces are receiving such funding, whilst not complying with the national policy, it would be most unfair for the Western Cape not to receive the same.
I have written to the Minister of Basic Education in this regard and look forward to her response.
Our Strategic Plan for 2015-2019 and the Provincial Strategic Plan set out our primary objectives. I am pleased that, despite the financial challenges, we have made progress in achieving them.
Our performance in the National Senior Certificate is once again pleasing, with the Western Cape again achieving the highest percentage of bachelor's passes in the country, at 39.1%, the highest pass rate in Mathematics, of 73.9% and the second highest in Physical Science, of 73%.
On the inclusive basket of criteria determined by the National Minister as the real measure of quality performance, including retention from Grade 10, we remain in the Number 1 position.
An improvement in Language and Mathematics is a key focus area for this government and I am therefore very pleased that the systemic tests conducted in 2017 ultimately show us that our language and maths interventions are working, and that the quality of teaching and learning in our schools in the Western Cape is improving, even in the face of decreasing budgets in real terms, and increasing numbers. This is so particularly in the Foundation Phase, which is so crucial for the acquisition of these competencies.
We saw marked improvements in the Foundation Phase with Grade 3 learners improving their maths pass rate by 2.1% from 2016, and their language by 5%, with an increase in learners writing of over 5000.
The Grade 6 and 9 results either remained the same or increased or decreased by a minor percentage point. I am pleased that, with the increased number of learners writing these tests, we were able to sustain the pass rate when compared to 2016. This is so especially in Mathematics, where we saw a large jump a few years ago, which some thought was an anomaly, but which has been sustained.
These tests continue to inform our language and mathematics interventions, and improve the management of education and learner performance. If we did not have these tests, we would not be able to design appropriate new maths and language strategies and interventions to improve teaching and learning in these crucial subjects.
The Year of the Teacher was a key theme of the Western Cape Education Department's activities during 2017. We used this time to listen, to reflect, to acknowledge and to celebrate the province's excellent teaching corps, as well as highlight the importance of professionalism in the workplace.
This year, we have adopted the theme "2018 The Year of Value-Driven Learning". We have retained "Celebrating our excellent teachers" as a subtheme, to maintain the momentum of our theme last year, focusing on teachers. Our vision as a department reflects our deep commitment to values that are necessary to ensure quality education for every child in every classroom, in every school.
Our educators continue to do us proud.
Congratulations must go to Wendy Horn, Principal of Protea Heights Academy, a Maths and Science Focus School, who was listed as one of 50 finalists in the Global Teacher of the Year Award 2017. The Global Teacher Awards is now an annual event at the Global Education and Skills Forum organised by the Varkey Foundation, and has been dubbed the 'Nobel Prize' for teaching. With over 8000 applicants from 148 countries around the world, being shortlisted in the top 50 finalists is a remarkable achievement.
Madam Speaker, while the budget allocation to education has increased from R20, 722 billion in 2017/18, to R22, 193 billion in 2018/19, the majority of the increased funding provides for the increases in Conditions of Service.
75% of the budget is allocated to the compensation of employees. The remaining 25% is needed to fund all other programmes contained in this budget, including funds directed to our schools through Norms and Standards funding, furniture, textbooks, infrastructure and examinations, transport - just to name a few!
It also needs to fund our other pro-poor initiatives. In the Western Cape, for example, 85.15% of the budget allocations of our resources in respect of items such as textbooks, stationery, learner transport and feeding programmes goes to the poorest 60% of our learner population. This shows what a DA government does even in the face of uncaring ANC policies and budget allocations.
Learner transport and hostels
Owing to the increases in learner numbers, the budget for learner transport increases by more than R13 million, to over R393 million, and an amount of over R43 million is allocated for the increasing need for hostel accommodation.
School Feeding Scheme
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 471 000 learners from 996 schools. The amount allocated to the feeding programme for the 2018/2019 financial year is more than R357 million. In addition, we continue to feed 76 059 learners in 309 Quintile 4-5 schools that serve poorer communities, as well as 26 245 children in the after-school programme to ensure that our poorer learners are able to participate.
Another example of a caring DA government.
In 2016, I published a draft Western Cape Provincial Schools Education Amendment Bill. It has now gone through the processes that I am required to follow, and has been tabled in the Provincial Legislature for processing. It went out for public comment on Friday 9th March.
Pending finalisation of the Bill, we have been piloting the new School Evaluation Authority for over a year now. We have made substantial progress and it has been generally welcomed in schools where it has been trialled.
Sharpening the focus of evaluation is one aspect of what we are calling the "Transforming School Accountability" Project, or TSA. Another part of this is improving our use of data, and we are developing very useful tools for our officials to use to identify performance trends and more accurately determine areas for improvement and where accountability for these actions lies.
I am particularly excited about this new innovation that will drive school improvement through accountability and support in this financial year. I am also very pleased that it is attracting positive attention outside the Western Cape.
And again I would like to thank all our partners in this project, particularly Ark Schools, and Project Manager, Romaney Pinnock.
Collaboration Schools Initiative
Madam speaker, given the long-term effects of poverty and inequality in our schools, compounded by the financial constraints that we as a government are facing, many of the public schools in poorer communities need extra support for management, teachers and learners, as well as additional financial resources. We have therefore had to explore new, innovative and collaborative ways of improving the quality of public schooling for learners from poorer communities, in line with the province's strategic goal to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for youth development.
Another provision in the Amendment Bill is the Provision made specifically for collaboration schools.
The aim of this project was to bring in additional education management skills and innovation into the public school system, through non-profit partnerships to improve the quality of teaching and learning in no-fee public schools, assisted by top-up funding from private donors.
It is one of the ways that I truly believe we can narrow the gap between richer and poorer communities, and is yielding promising results. Our Collaboration Schools project now comprises 10 schools, with two new such schools having opened at the beginning of this year. In spite of resistance from certain quarters, we have had excellent reactions from communities and they are happy with what they are seeing.
Since the inception of the new model, the various funders have committed over R150 million to the project. This model has brought additional capacity to the schools in the form of governance, training, support and social capital. The operating partners have been working with schools to develop specific school improvement plans and are implementing these plans.
Although it is still very early days, the 2017 Systemic Tests results are very encouraging.
In the three primary schools that started this project two years ago, we saw an average improvement at Grade 3 level, from 13.4% to 32.9% in language, and from 29.3% to 53.3% in Mathematics.
At Grade 6 level, average language results increased from 19% to 23.5%, and Maths from 16.2% to 25.1%.
In the two high schools, the maths results unfortunately decreased, but this was largely influenced by the fire in Hout Bay, and some teething problems at Langa High School. Nevertheless, the language results still improved from 13.5% to 18.9%.
So overall, these are remarkable improvements in such a short space of time, and I am looking forward to what they can do in the next few years. Thanks once again, to all our partners in this innovative project.
I reported last year on the exciting partnership we have in Bonnievale, which has resulted in the new high school, Jakes Gerwel, opening its doors at the beginning of this year. This is a miraculous achievement.
We also have another exciting project in the Breede Valley.
It is true that some of the greatest things have been done by people you have never heard of, quietly dedicating their lives to improving the lives of others.
A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has committed to replacing and maintaining the Botha's Halte Primary School in the Breede Valley. The new building complex will provide a state-of-the-art, world-class school facility to primary school learners. Included as part of the school complex is an auditorium-type multipurpose hall, three fully fitted-out specialist classrooms with sewing machines, handwork and woodwork equipment, and musical instruments, as well as a state of the art science laboratory.
The school will open its doors to 250 learners at the start of the 2019 academic year.
This kind of generosity and vision from private sector partners is greatly valued and will make a difference for learners in these areas for years to come. Thank you.
Western Cape Drought Measures and Smart Water Meter Challenge
Madam Speaker, I referred earlier to the worst drought in a century that we are currently experiencing.
Once again, we have had to spring into action and deviate from our plans in order to try and secure our schools so that they become more water efficient, and more self-sufficient.
As a Department, we have prioritised funding for the Drought response programme for water resource infrastructure projects amounting to R300 million for the 2018/ 19 financial year. Unfortunately, this has had to come from our already starved provincial budget, as no additional funds have yet been forthcoming from National Government to assist our schools.
The R300 million we are investing, is being invested in projects to provide augmented water supplies to schools, in areas most affected by the drought. Last year, officials of the WCED and DTPW began surveying the needs of schools extensively and officials have developed detailed plans based on overall needs and the needs of individual schools.
The focus of the investigation was to ensure water security at schools, to ensure water for hygiene and fire security, and drinking water, with the overall objective being that schools remain open after Day Zero, in the event that this materialises, which we sincerely hope it won't.
Our main focus has been on ensuring that schools have the additional facilities they need to source, store and use augmented water supplies.
Most of the planned interventions cover supplies of non-potable water to schools, for hygiene and fire security. The WCED is also currently installing leak detectors at 120 schools, as well as testing existing borehole water quality. The availability of groundwater at schools is also being established and the WCED is in the process of procuring 1181 water storage containers which are to be installed at schools without water tanks within the City of Cape Town area. In addition, to ensure fire safety in a day zero scenario, 24 096 additional fire extinguishers are in the process of being procured and will be supplied to all schools. Principals and our schools will continue to play a key role in public education on responsible water use.
Given the costs of the above we are most appreciative when we are assisted by the private sector. Included in these savings measures is the installation of digital water metering systems that provide accurate data on water consumption at schools.
Last year Bridgiot, started by Stellenbosch University, developed a digital water metering system that monitors water consumption in real time. Consumers can use the system to detect leaks and intervene strategically to cut consumption, based on data generated by the system.
The Shoprite Group in partnership with Bridgiot and Cape Talk Radio launched the Smart Water Meter Challenge in November last year. The retailer funded the installation of smart water meters at 100 of the top water-using schools in Cape Town and got 82 corporates to pledge to install a further 260 smart water meters in just a 3 month period.
The savings generated by these meters at schools are huge, and not only do they help us save the water we so desperately need to, but also assist our schools financially in terms of savings on municipal costs.
In total, 204 schools have saved over R2.5 million and over 36 million litres of water.
A top water-saving school is Yomele Primary in Khayelitsha where consumption has decreased by 76% since installation of the smart device and a total of R272 000 has been saved.
This is an excellent example of the private sector rising to the challenge of a crisis, and working with all parties on a solution. I must thank Shoprite, Bridgiot, and the University of Stellenbosch, the team at Cape Talk, as well as every company and individual that has pledged to this water metre initiative. Your support is greatly appreciated. I am joined today by my special guests who have all played a crucial role in this project:
Please will all those here from Bridgiot, Shoprite, the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Talk, and the University of Cape Town stand up so we can acknowledge your contribution.
School Safety/ Safe Schools Programme
School safety is a concern around the world, as we have recently seen in the tragic incident in Florida, USA. We continue working with all role-players to ensure the safety of our teachers and learners as far as we possibly can.
Safe Schools officials are working closely with schools and partners in every sector to implement plans to safeguard our public schools. The programme includes security infrastructure mechanisms such as perimeter fencing, electronic access control, burglar bars, metal detectors, and monitored alarm systems linked to an armed response service, as well as improving the social environment at schools, including youth development and conflict management programmes. We help schools to develop and implement their own individual safety plans, and assist them in mobilising community support for schools. Safe Schools also engages with School Safety Clusters regularly within education districts where cluster support needs are discussed and addressed.
In my capacity as chairperson of the Provincial Steering Committee for Strategic Goal 2: Improving Education Outcomes and Opportunities for Youth Development (PSG2), I am pleased with the progress we have made in strengthening the relationships between the province and crucial national departments that have the primary mandate and budget for justice and policing, which are so crucial in maintaining safe and secure environments.
Firstly, a senior official in the WCED chairs the Priority committee on School Safety. This is an excellent platform for sharing information and better co-ordination of responses in emergencies between all relevant role-players.
It is also assisting in planning pre-emptive safety related work at schools with the focus on ensuring that our limited safety resources are deployed when and where most needed.
Secondly, the Steercom serves as an Inter-Ministerial Committee in terms of the National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy, which comprises the Provincial Ministers of Education, Community Safety, Social Development and Sport, Arts and Culture, as well as senior representatives from the SAPS, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Department of Justice, Correctional Services and the City Law Enforcement and Metro Police. The objective of the committee is to discuss improved mechanisms to decrease gang-related crime, and to develop strategies to support our youth in order to prevent them from participating in gangsterism themselves.
Thirdly, we are introducing a school risk classification tool which has been developed in consultation between the WCED, the City of Cape Town, SAPS and DOCS. This tool 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.
We are also working together in the WCG across various departments to try and address the complex social issues that give rise to young people getting involved in gangs. We are however under no illusion that the fight against the gangs is hindered by our severely under-resourced police stations and inefficient justice system, not to mention the alleged gang links with senior ANC politicians.
Every school forms part of its community and is inevitably affected by challenges facing that community, including gangsterism and drugs. Parents and communities also have key roles to play in ensuring safe school environments and positive behaviour as it is only through a whole of society approach that we will be able to make significant progress in dealing with this complex issue that is bedevilling so many of our communities.
This year, we will invest over R34 million into the Safe Schools programme.
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. A reality of the budgetary constraints that we are facing is that we have had to cut the emergency school maintenance fund by R5 million. In 2018/ 2019, R25 million has been allocated to the Emergency Maintenance Fund which will assist in repairing schools affected by burglary and vandalism.
In 2018/ 2019, the WCED 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 development is an amount of over R1,6 billion while the amount allocated to new and replacement schools is R531 million.
In order to accommodate the additional 25 388 learners this year alone, we effectively need another 25-30 schools, which cost around R60 million per school. This totals between R1,5 and R1,8 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 yet the National government has just cut the Education Infrastructure Grant!
Madam Speaker, while there are huge needs in infrastructure, there is a very real possibility that Infrastructure Development projects may need to be delayed because of the funding cuts, budget pressures and the prioritisation of water saving and supply measures.
It was only through the tragic loss of life in the Eastern Cape, that the National Government has finally woken up to some of the desperate needs our schools have. While the Western Cape is far more advanced in terms of ablution facilities at schools, and we do not have any pit toilets, as reported by the DBE, we do have schools that have insufficient sanitation for the increased number of learners in some schools. The WCED does have a maintenance programme in place to improve conditions at these schools in stages.
And now we have the President insisting on sanitation being upgraded - and rightly so - but after he has just cut the infrastructure budget! It is amazing that billions can be poured into mismanaged SOE's on an ongoing basis, but we cannot find money to build proper school infrastructure and employ sufficient teachers to educate our young people.
The best thing the President can do is to abolish the quintile system and change the Provincial Equitable Share formula to respond to the number of learners we have in the system, not the number we had 7 years ago.
I am pleased, though, that in the 2018/19 financial year, we will see the completion of 7 new schools and 3 replacements schools.
Maintenance of our existing schools also remains a priority, with many of our poorer schools unable to keep up with maintenance and repairs. R435 million will be allocated towards maintenance in schools.
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.
Inclusive education seeks to include learners with special needs as far as possible in ordinary, mainstream schools. With additional support provided, some of these learners are then able to attend a local school.
The WCED currently supports over 82 000 learners with low to moderate level support needs in mainstream and full-service ordinary schools.
18 500 learners attend 71 special schools in the Western Cape, including Schools of Skills.
Over the past year, two new Schools of Skills were opened, these are Wellington and Eureka - both in the Cape Winelands District.
I am also pleased that two brand new Special Needs School buildings opened their doors this year - namely Chere Botha and Rusthof Special Schools.
Madam Speaker, we also welcome the introduction of Sign Language as a matric subject nationally. Sign Language specialists at the WCED have played a key role in making this possible. The WCED embarked on a three year South African Sign Language Pilot Project from 2011 to 2013 to establish South African Sign Language as a subject in schools for the Deaf.
The SASL curriculum developed was first implemented in the Western Cape in grade R to grade 3 from January 2011, and has been implemented incrementally and for the first time, it is being implemented in grade 12 in 2018, and I am pleased that we have already identified significant improvement in the academic achievement of learners at the five WCED Schools for the Deaf using SASL.
At long last, learners are learning in their first language.
I look forward to seeing the results of the first cohort of matriculants in this subject at the end of 2018 and will be most proud that this all began in the Western Cape!
Madam Speaker, South Africa is a multilingual country with a rich diversity of languages reflective of its multicultural population and while highlighting the importance of learning in your home language, I am delighted to announce that, following a successful pilot over the last 3 years, the WCED, at the start of the 2nd school term, will be rolling out Xhosa to an additional 254 schools, including 725 Grade 1 classes, reaching 26 350 learners in the province.
The Western Cape has the largest number of schools in the country where Afrikaans and English are the first and second languages. The WCED currently offers Xhosa in 23.61% of our schools.
The department is however conscious of the importance of languages and communication in promoting social cohesion and nation building, and we plan to strengthen the teaching of African languages through the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) in all public schools from Grades 1 to 12.
Teacher training initiatives
Madam Speaker, the ongoing professional development of our educators is of the utmost importance, and we will be investing over R92 million in it this year, an increase of R7 million from last year.
This year, the Cape Teacher and Leadership Institute (CTLI), in partnership with UCT, SU and the ETDPSETA, availed bursaries to a number of educators who are teaching subjects or phases for which they are not qualified. Through the two year Advanced Certificate in Teaching and the Advanced Diploma in Education courses, teachers will be re-qualified to match their qualifications with what they are teaching.
The CTLI will also be running intensive interventions for ICT integration. The training of school leadership and teachers in digital technology continues at an accelerated pace. Just under 2000 teachers participated in ICT development programmes last year. In addition, a group of 300 teachers also successfully completed an accredited UCT course in ICT integration. Over the past weekend, 100 participants were enrolled at UP to start an honors degree in ICT integration and they have been registered by ETDPSETA for bursaries.
The CTLI has also started integrating ICT into our Foundation Phase courses. Teachers are now able to apply for courses on-line, with pre- and post - testing done online, and all group work is done in Google Classroom. Coordinators can now see exactly what is happening in the groups and engage with individuals online. Despite varying IT competencies, all the teachers have bought into this and I am pleased to hear that they have all cooperated enthusiastically.
In 2017, the CTLI also introduced training interventions for Grade R teachers and Practitioners. The response to these interventions was overwhelming and I am pleased that this year, we will continue with a Grade R course in Language Teaching.
Madam Speaker, the Premier elaborated on the eLearning Game Changer in her address, so I will be very brief in this regard.
The WCED has invested over R266million towards e-learning in the 2018/ 2019 financial year and over R1,2 billion over a five year period.
Key elements of the eLearning programme 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.
The Premier detailed what we will have achieved by the end of our term, and we are well on track in respect of infrastructure delivery.
The e-Portal, which provides access to digital resources to teachers, learners and other users was launched in 2016 and now has over 11 600 digital resources. The department has designed the portal to make it as easy as possible for content developers to contribute content directly, and to share links to content. Teachers have responded extremely well to the programme so far and I am pleased that many teachers are providing excellent examples of how to enhance teaching and learning using eLearning at the respective schools.
The WCED has also developed an online Competency Assessment Tool that enables teachers to identify the skills they need on various levels to apply eLearning in the classroom.
The department has introduced online courses on all levels that teachers can follow in their own time to build the skills they have identified for development.
The South African Council of Educators (SACE) has officially approved these courses, which count towards professional development credits.
The WCED's eAdmin work stream is designing systems for school administration and management that will help to reduce administration burden on schools.
Schools will be able to use the systems to improve school management and planning. The systems will include online assessment and classroom management tools.
This year at the National Teaching Awards, Mariëtte Vorster, formerly of Touwsranten Primary School won the National Teaching Award for Excellence in Technology enhanced Teaching and Learning. She is now working in the District office sharing her knowledge in incorporating e-learning into the classroom. This is the second time that a Western Cape Teacher has won this award in the past three years.
It is clear from the budget that I have outlined today, that despite facing immense challenges, the WCED continues to produce excellent results. This can only be done with committed, dedicated staff across the board, and I want to pay tribute to each one of our hard-working members - both teaching and non-teaching staff, who give their all every day for the benefit of our young people.
I am aware that there is still much to do to address the gap between poor and well-resourced schools and to improve education across the board, and we will continue working towards that goal.
We as a Government have quite rightly prioritised frontline services, and all of our departments are taking significant strain.
In this regard I would like to thank my Cabinet colleagues that we in Education have not had to take another cut this year, whilst there are significant cuts in other areas. Thanks also to the Premier, Minister Meyer and Provincial Treasury for their support in this regard.
I must also thank the members of the Standing Committee under the leadership of Mr Basil Kivedo, for their oversight and for holding us accountable.
A special thanks to the SG and our Exco for all that you do, and for your exceptional commitment to the Department and the youth of our province.
And lastly, but very definitely not least, an extra special thank you to the amazing team in my office, which has been led by Bronagh Casey since my appointment. They really do put in everything to make sure that we serve the voters as best we possibly can, and to try and make my life that much easier. Thank you.
And finally I would like to also acknowledge some key people in the Department who have retired or are retiring at the end of this month. Our Metro South District Director, Glen Van Harte is retiring after 33 years of service and our Director of Communications, Mr Paddy Attwell after 17 years' service. I must thank you both for commitment and dedication to the WCED and to the learners of our province. I wish you all the best for your retirement.