Minister Grant Delivers Education Department Budget Speech
Speech delivered by Mr Donald Grant, Minister of Education, at the Provincial Legislature
Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the 2014/2015 bBudget for education in the Western Cape.
It is customary for Ministers to be allowed to have a number of special guests on the occasion of their budget speech. When I look back over this period in office I am painfully aware of the many days and weeks spent away from my immediate and my wider family. For this reason I am delighted to welcome here today a number of my family members, as follows:
- My wife, Cheryl.
- My sister, Helen.
- My brother in-law, Gary Kirsten.
I want them all to know how pleased I am they are here today and how much I have valued their support over my years in this position.
For another equally important reason I am thrilled to welcome Ms Wendy Horn from The Settlers High School here as a very special guest. Wendy was recently recognised as the leading teacher of Physical Science in South Africa at a prestigious gathering of the education family hosted by the National Minister of Basic Education. Speaker – teachers of the calibre of Wendy Horn are a precious asset to this province. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all the people in this House today when I congratulate her and thank her for what she does every day of her working life to improve the life chances of young people.
Two other Western Cape teachers - Ingrid Leukes of St Raphael’s Primary School and Junain Adonis of Pieter Langeveldt Primary School – were also prize winners at the function in Pretoria. They are unable to be here today but our sincere congratulations have been conveyed to them.
The nature of the budget which I will present is such that the focus is traditionally on the more obvious profile of schooling – from Grade R to Grade 12. However, as I have travelled further along the education road I have come to understand the importance to learners of all ages of three other components of education – Adult Education and Training, Further Education and Training Colleges and Early Childhood Development. All three are vital cogs in the education wheel. For that reason we invited senior officials from these sections to be our guests here today. While time constraints have prevented Danita Welgemoed (FET Colleges) and Sandra Fortuin (ECD) from being here, I should like to welcome Andre Damon from AET as a guest. Our recent AET awards event is testimony to the excellent work being done by the WCED in support of our adult students.
Over the last five years it has been my privilege to work with the Western Cape Education Department in improving education outcomes in this province. I am proud of what we have, together, achieved.
Over this period, we have improved upon all four of our strategic goals, namely:
- Improvement in Language and Mathematics in Primary Schools.
- Improvement in the number and quality of passes in the National Senior Certificate.
- Reduction in number of under-performing schools.
- Increase in the retention rate at schools.
Given the progress in these areas, I can state categorically that the system is in better shape than it was five years ago. This is as a result of a team effort by WCED officials, SGBs, parents and educators as well as partnerships with other provincial departments and education agencies. We have, for instance, worked closely with the Department of Health to introduce the mobile clinics which will visit primary schools to monitor basic health signs among our young learners.
As Premier Zille mentioned in her State of the Province Address, “progress is the product of partnerships” and that is certainly the case in education. Together, we have contributed towards what the Honourable Minister Winde referred to in his Budget speech as the building of a sustainable home in which all our people can live.
The Provincial Department of Education is a vital contractor in the building of that home. If our young people are to be part of economic growth and job creation – integral to this government’s main objective in creating an open opportunity society for all – and are to access the human rights which we celebrate tomorrow, education has to get it right. In financial terms that is why over R16 billion of the provincial budget has been allocated to Education in 2014/2015.
Within the last five years, brick by brick, we have laid the foundation for solid improvements in learner performance. But, Speaker, I am the first to admit that there is still much more that needs to be done before we can be satisfied with the quality of education our children receive in this home we are constructing.
That is why this budget is so important. It reflects five years of careful planning, research, systems change and hard lessons. I have visited nearly 1 000 schools in my time as minister. I have seen many examples of outstanding teaching and all-encompassing care of children in our schools serving the full range of communities. This experience coupled with the WCED’s data and professional expertise shaped this budget to reflect the needs of schools and their learners. Safety is undoubtedly one of these needs. The WCED will continue to work closely with its relevant sister departments of Social Development, Community Safety and Sport and Culture to improve the security conditions at our schools.
For budgetary purposes the WCED operates nine programmes that taken together contribute towards further progress in education within our province. Each of these programmes, I believe, is integral to ensuring the stability of the structure of the Western Cape home.
Programme 1: Administration
In this area I am proud to say that over the last five years, this government has made a range of systems improvements to ensure better quality service, administration and communications.
A number of business processes have been automated by providing schools, District Offices and Head Office units with access to online reporting and monitoring mechanisms such as the School Improvement Plan System (SIPS) which monitors and assesses the resources, needs and targets of schools, as well as, the District Management Information System (DMIS), which allows district offices to capture, plan and report on all school visits. These have facilitated problem-solving and service delivery.
In 2014/2015 over R660 million has been allocated to this programme, the focus of which will be on improving administrative services.
This includes strengthening the application of accounting practices and disciplines so as to improve further on the audit assessment of the Auditor General, as well as, general procurement.
The WCED will also focus on providing needs-based support for schools, specifically in financial management and will continue to facilitate the training of SGBs.
Programme 2: Public Ordinary Schools
Programme 2 receives our largest budget allocation. Public ordinary school education makes up 75% of the overall education budget or R12 billion. Most of this item consists of educator salaries for our 33 000 hardworking educators. In this regard, I am delighted to confirm that we have through savings and efficient management been able to fund an additional 100 Foundation Phase posts.
The focus in 2014 in this programme will be on the systems needed to enhance further the school experience of our learners and to provide support for educators.
Target setting and monitoring will be strengthened under the SIPS programme with a focus on quality teaching time, the management of resources and a decrease in teacher and learner absenteeism.
In keeping with the theme, “progress is the product of partnerships”, WCED officials, principals, heads of departments, lead teachers and school based curriculum coordinators will all be required to work together with a view to improving quality as well as eliminating uneven standards and bridging existing gaps.
There will be a focus on decreasing repeater rates in all grades and there will be support for the strategies to improve performance in Languages and Mathematics in primary schools and for Mathematics and Physical Sciences in secondary schools. I am particularly excited about a new programme that will see 100 tutor graduates in Mathematics and Science helping learners in our schools. However, while our improvements are gratifying we need to expand and strengthen achievements in Mathematics and in the Sciences. I have during the last few days requested the WCED to review and sharpen our strategies in this area.
Conditional grant funding will continue to be dedicated to support our poorer learners and broadening access and excellence such the Dinaledi programme, the HIV and Aids programme and the National School Nutrition Programme. In the 2014/2015 financial year, over R280 million will be made available for the feeding scheme which provides for two meals a day for 450 000 learners in over 1000 schools in the Western Cape.
The WCED will continue to support schools that serve poor communities. In 2014/2015 no-fee schools in National Quintiles 1 – 3 will receive the same increased amount of R 1,059 per learner which will contribute meaningfully to improving resources critical to the teaching and learning experience at these schools.
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 059.00. Therefore the Department will reduce this gap in 2014/15 financial year by 100 %. The cost of these allocations per year will be to the value of R11 million.
The WCED will also help schools by alleviating some of the challenges they face as a result of the non-payment of school fees. In the 2014/2015 financial year R 44 million will be made available to provide for fee compensation.
As many of you are aware, last year 216 fee-paying schools serving poor communities accepted my invitation to become no-fee schools. The WCED has budgeted R45 million to support these schools. I know that this initiative has been welcomed by many schools and their parents and, as more funds become available, we hope to expand the invitation even further.
Programme 3: Independent School Subsidies
The Western Cape Government acknowledges the important role independent schools play in the education system.
Our relationship with this sector is a partnership that is aimed at progress as we both have the same shared vision – the provision of quality education. I am therefore pleased that we are able to support these schools, particularly the poorer independent schools, in delivering a better quality education. Ninety million rand has been allocated to this programme in the next financial year. The bulk of this budget will contribute towards the subsidisation of schools that serve poorer learners.
2014 will see the creation of an exclusive sub-directorate for Independent schools to ensure improved and focussed attention to this sector. Our aim is to improve the monitoring of registration compliance for independent schools, the conditions under which registration could be withdrawn, and the registration of learners for examinations.
We will also further encourage all independent schools to take part in the Annual National Assessments and Grades 3, 6 and 9 testing programme, as well as, invite teachers at independent schools to attend WCED training courses.
Programme 4: Public Special School Education
An essential part of our vision of an open opportunity society for all is allowing greater access to educational opportunities for children with special needs. Our commitment to these learners is reflected in the R1 billion allocations to this programme in 2014, increasing by R354 million over the last four years.
The officials, educators and support staff that serve our special needs schools are truly partners in progress. I am also grateful for the support we receive from other provincial departments such as health and social development in supporting our learners of special needs.
In 2014/2015, the WCED will continue to assist special needs and inclusive schools in developing their capacity to provide for a variety of needs through early identification and preventative interventions, as well as the screening, identification, assessment and support process.
Included in this programme are our schools of skills. Schools of skills are extremely valuable to this government as they provide important educational opportunities for those learners whose educational needs cannot be met in mainstream schools. These learners are offered a vocational, practical or technical curriculum in study fields such as automative services, building and construction, manufacturing, hospitality, administration and personal care, which are valuable skills in the growth of any economy.
We currently have over 8 000 learners enrolled at 17 schools of skills in the Western Cape.
The importance attached to these institutions by this government is evident through the number of new schools of skills that have opened up in this province in recent years. This increased growth in school of skills will we believe translate into further job creation in this province. Fourteen million rand will be allocated to this sector in 2014/2015.
Programme 5: Further Education and Training
Another area in which this government is making a significant contribution to education and skills development is within our FET colleges.
In the Western Cape, we have a mixed economy focusing on areas such as agriculture, tourism, construction and light industry. However, there are other areas which we are beginning to prioritise and strengthen such as ICT, engineering and business studies. These are key skills needed in the Western Cape and require an articulated system to meet these needs.
Our partners in this sector consist of a staff complement of over 2 700 office based staff and lecturers who offer learners opportunities to learn valuable skills, as well as, various mechanisms to place learners in a working environment while studying. For example, there are over 11 000 learnership students currently in workshops for experiential training.
In the Western Cape there are six FET colleges made up of 40 campuses. We will continue to work with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to expand and improve on the successes of these institutions.
The budget allocation for this sector in 2014/2015 is R377 million.
Our focus in this sector for 2014 is to increase access to these institutions and provide greater work opportunities for these learners. We will also concentrate on meeting the demands of the market place by transforming and adapting to changing skills needs, with a special emphasis on artisan training.
I am delighted to announce that this year’s education budget supports the continuation of the Youth Focus Project (YFP).
The YFP was successfully piloted in 2013, and is designed specifically for learners who have repeatedly failed Grades 9 and 10 and who are three to four years older than other learners in Grade 9.
The project aims to provide a twelve month funded bridging programme which culminates in an occupation oriented qualification at FET colleges or a skills programme for learners wanting to take this option.
In 2014, the WCED has matched 617 Grade 9 learners to FET colleges across the province.
In addition, 244 of the learners from the pilot group in 2013, will be funded to continue another year of study at our FET colleges. The benefits to the Colleges, the learners involved and to our schools is mutual and obvious.
Programme 6: Adult Education and Training.
In my welcome today I made specific reference to the AET programme as one of the “unsung heroes” of education in South Africa.
I strongly believe that learning is a lifelong commitment, and we are proud of our adult learners who have made use of the opportunities that are on offer by the WCED through our Adult Education and Training (AET) centres.
For many adult learners, the 114 adult learning centres we have in this province have become an integral part of their communities. Here adults can obtain their General Education and Training Certificate (GETC): AET qualification, which allows adult learners the opportunity to access further education and training, career development and employment opportunities.
This enables our adult learners to contribute positively to the development of their community and the Western Cape economy. It also allows our adult learners to live fuller, richer and more engaged lives in their communities.
I am appreciative of all the hard work and effort by our officials and centre staff that goes into making these centres a beacon of hope and opportunity for many of our adult learners.
In 2014, the WCED have allocated over R39 million towards this programme. This next year, the department will focus on expanding access to these institutions and improving the quality of the qualifications obtained.
The WCED will also be providing Adult Education Programmes to 500 employees of 10 provincial and national government departments and business/industry.
As in the case of FET colleges, we will continue to support the technical process to transfer Adult Education and Training from the province to the DHET.
Programme 7: Early Childhood Development
Our seventh programme is that for Early Childhood Development.
This programme is vital as having children enter the school system that have been stimulated and developed to age-appropriate levels in their early years, has an impact on how they react and develop when they enter the school system.
There are many “partners in progress” in the Western Cape that are responsible for early childhood development While the government, both local and national, has a big role to play – for instance, in the Provincial Government, the departments of Social Development, Health and Education all together play a role – it is important that we work with NGOs, corporates and communities. Without their collaboration, we will not be able to ensure that our children are given the best chances in life to develop to their full potential.
In 2014, the WCED will allocate R522 million towards this programme which will focus on increasing the provision of quality education at Grade R public ordinary schools and independent sites and on ensuring that those who enter Grade 1 are well prepared for school.
For example, we will be strengthening the implementation of the CAPS for the Grade R, we will be providing additional training to Grade R teachers, effectively monitor classroom practice, and build 81 new Grade R classrooms in areas of greatest need. In addition, 130 schools will receive ECD kits.
Programme 8: Infrastructure Development
Speaker, a large proportion of our budget will be spent on infrastructure and maintenance.
We have already been successful in the planning and building of 70 schools in the last five years – almost double that of the previous ANC administration.
In the coming years, we are determined to ensure that more children will experience improved infrastructure and facilities at their schools.
The successful and structured roll-out of textbooks to all schools over the last three years has pointed the way to a similar approach which will be taken in terms of infrastructure and maintenance.
In the next financial year, R856 million will be allocated towards this programme which will contribute towards the building of new schools, the replacement of inappropriate structures and maintenance projects.
The WCED will continue to improve and refine how we will address future infrastructure developments and needs.
The shape and size of the education system is dynamic and needs to adapt to the constantly evolving environment within which our schools operate. In the Western Cape, we face a number of development challenges simultaneously, including but not limited to population shifts from other provinces – there have for instance been over 22 000 new enrolments from the Eastern Cape alone this year, improved learner retention and a greater demand for skills development.
As some communities expand and others contract in size and density in the province; as more learners are retained throughout the system; and as the need for up-skilling our learners intensifies, we need to be prepared to adapt the shape and size of the education system and apply our resources effectively and efficiently to accommodate the many realities that exist in the Western Cape.
Therefore, we will continue to take into account the changing circumstances in which our schools operate.
In terms of existing schools, the replacement of schools with inappropriate structures will continue and we will promote an even greater focus on ensuring that our schools are kept in a suitable condition. While the replacement of so-called mud schools in some provinces deservedly are receiving much attention, we have children who attend schools in inappropriate structures from a previous age. These also have to be replaced as quickly as possible.
While we have increased the school maintenance budget significantly in the last three years by more than 50%, the WCED plans to direct more expenditure towards maintenance projects.
The major focus on maintenance in this plan is not only about increasing the portion of the budget available for improving the maintenance of our schools. It is also about fundamentally changing the way maintenance is conceived and executed, as well as, engaging with schools and communities so that they too can play a role in making our school structures conducive to positive learning environments.
In 2014/2015, R 196 million will be spent on maintenance projects.
Programme 9: Auxiliary and Associated Services
The ninth and final programme is that for Auxiliary and Associated Services. This programme is important as it includes all major assessments and examinations such as the National Senior Certificate, the AET exams, the Senior Certificate and Supplementary examinations.
Ensuring the integrity of these examinations is of utmost importance to the Western Cape Education Department. Parents and the broader community have to have confidence in the quality and credibility of the qualifications with which our learners exit the school system.
Public examinations and systemic assessments are huge logistical exercises that require careful planning and tight management and we are grateful to have such a dedicated and experienced team working hard to ensure that strict security measures are in place to prevent any irregularities in this regard.
R750 million is allocated to this programme.
Speaker, I have learnt a great deal about education over the last five years and I am particularly proud of what this Department has achieved.
The success and progress of Education in the Western Cape is not in dispute here today. I believe education adds a crucial dimension to the home we are building in the Western Cape.
The focus on quality, retention and skills development will all contribute positively to economic growth and a reduction in unemployment.
I would like to thank each of our “partners in progress” who have made this success possible over the last five years.
We have certainly, and will continue to make, education, in the Western Cape, Better Together.