Provincial departments of education have in recently outlined their plans and what they will be prioritising in this financial year through budget vote speeches.
This week, Inside Education brings you some of the highlights that came out of the budget votes by MECs of education.
The province received a budget allocation of R35.076 billion for the 2021/22 financial year.
In his budget speech MEC Fundile Gade outlined the priorities of his department in this financial year including improving literacy and numeracy skills at foundation phase.
Gade said part of this programme will be to provide reading plans to learners in grades R and three. He said the department would also make available guidelines on how parents can assist children to read for meaning.
“This Reading Academy teacher training is an online course where the department will be able to reach out and train many teachers at a time. The Moodle platform has already been set and is ready to roll out the training,” said Gade.
Adding that the Foundation Phase teachers will be trained on the methodologies of teaching reading in 2021.
The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces that has major infrastructure backlogs.
READ: DBE Budget vote debate: Eastern Cape Education MEC says corruption by officials is rife in his province
Gade said there were 228 projects in various stages of construction. Of the 228 projects, five major school projects are scheduled for completion in the current financial year. They include a hostel for a special needs school at a cost of R199-million.
He also said that 69 schools would receive sanitation infrastructure support and that the department had budgeted R20-million for sanitation in this financial year.
Again on infrastructure, Gade said R40-million had been set aside for the rehabilitation, renovation and refurbishments of special schools.
The other priority for the department is the establishment of special schools in all districts. In this financial year six special schools are set to be opened including an Autism school in Buffalo City Metro.
In her presentation of the R32.568 billion for the 2021/22 financial year, MEC Poppy Boshielo said one of the things her province will prioritise is e-learning.
She said this will be prioritised because when schools were closed during hard lockdown and while some learners continued to study online, most learners in Limpopo could not continue with online lessons.
“In order to address this, the department will be rolling out its e- learning strategy,” said Boshielo.
Boshielo said premier Stanley Mathabatha allocated the department funding of R100 million to start with the rolling out of e-learning. She said the department also made available R128 million for the project.
The total budget for the e-learning programme would be R 228 million. Adding that the department will also provide tablets for learners and laptops to educators.
“Given the available budget, the department will be implementing e-learning in two grades, grade 1 and grade 8.
“In Grade 1, there are 142 123 learners in the province while in Grade 8 there are 125 645 learners.
“To provide tablets for the Grade 1 learners, it will cost R 355 million and R 314 million for the Grade 8 learners,” said Boshielo.
The MEC said the department would stagger the provision of tablets and that the programme will start at no-fee schools.
Boshielo said technical schools in the province will partner with mining companies in order to prepare learners with relevant skills needed in the province. A province where mining is one of the major economic activities.
“An example of such collaboration was launched in Mogalakwena, Phaladingoe Technical School between the department and Anglo-American Platinum, where learners are studying light and heavy electrical engineering courses.
“These learners are taught from time to time by operations managers from the mine. The equipment and machines that they use have been donated by Anglo Platinum Mine. What is pleasing is that during the weekends, learners make money by fixing electrical appliances like irons, hot plates and kettles in the village. We call on all other mining houses to also come on board to assist the department as we build up this capacity that they need to remain globally competitive while utilising local labour and skills,” she said.
The department has also set aside R34 million for the roll out of the sanitary dignity program and it will be used to provide about 2.3 million packs to 190 000 girl children.
The Gauteng department of education has a budget of R53,4-billion for the 2021/22 financial year.
In his speech MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said one of his department’s priority in this financial year is to increase learner enrolment in technical high schools, and as such the department has approved applications to offer technical subjects and technical fields of specialisation to several schools.
Lesufi said the department will introduce nine specialisation subjects in the technology pathway and those subjects include: construction, woodworking, digital systems, power systems, electronics, fitting and machining, welding and metal work.
In this financial year, Lesufi said the department is looking to add 400 refurbished Smart Classrooms, where it will roll out smart technologies to township high schools.
He added that the province was on track in eradicating asbestos schools in the province having demolished four last year.
The Northern Cape department of education received a budget allocation of R7.14 billion.
MEC for Education Zolile Monakeli said the department has allocated R14 million for about 32 000 learners who will be conditionally, partially or fully exempted from paying school fees.
The learners come from 119 schools out of 138 fee paying schools that applied for compensation for fee exemptions.
Monakeli said the department had set aside R17.56 million to support the Class of 2021 through a matric intervention and turnaround strategy. The strategy includes Saturday classes.
He also said the department was in the process of finalising the learner transport tender for the province.
The process would be completed before the end of the financial year and will secure a safe and reliable learner transport for the Department at a cost of R168.49 million, he said.
“This is significant as this is one of the mechanisms through which we secure general and universal access to education. The Department is currently transporting 24 559 learners to their respective schools with various modes of transport,” he said.
Monakeli said the department has set aside R633.3 million for the maintenance of and renovation of 49 schools.
MEC Kwazi Mshengu presented a budget allocation of R 53.184 billion.
Mshengu said the department had commissioned a feasibility study to explore the establishment of schools of mining and arts in the province. This is as part of the department’s programme on specialised schools, he said.
“KwaZulu-Natal is endowed with unmatched talent which most of it remains unprofitable because of the lack of support and nurturing of this talent.
“Equally, extraction and exporting raw mineral resources is counter-productive as it amounts to exporting jobs. The failure to beneficiate on the mineral resources is an anomaly that must be confronted urgently – hence the need for a School of Mining. The final decision will be informed by the outcomes of the feasibility studies,” said Mshengu.
Mshengu also said the department has from this year piloted the occupational stream at 10 mainstream schools in the province. This is in response to the introduction of the three-stream model introduced by the department of basic education where the focus is on academic, technical-vocational and occupational streams.
“The focus for the occupational stream is on low-intensity occupational skills which individuals can master to start small-scale businesses and to assist them to earn a living straight from school,” he said.
The pilot started in grade eight with subjects including consumer and hospitality studies, mechanical and civil technology as well as agricultural studies.
Mshengu said in this financial year his department would deliver six new schools at different districts as part of the infrastructure development. He also proper sanitation facilities were under construction.
Mshengu said over the years, the department had lost over R500 million from staff debt staff debt because of the “weaknesses in internal control measures and the outdated operations of the department”.
“Whilst we need to recover this money from both the ex and current employees of the department, we have to close the tap.
“In addition to the appointed debt collectors, we are also exploring an electronic system for leave management and timeous termination of the employees who have resigned or retired from the service,” he said.
MEC for Education Bonakele Majuba said his department had received a budget allocation of R22.3-billion for the 2021/22 financial year.
Majuba said part of the money would be spent on infrastructure development.
This includes building schools and additional classrooms in fast growing towns in the province which are eMalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Mbombela, Middelburg and Lydenburg.
He said R46 million had been set aside to build three schools in these towns and will also add additional classrooms. Majuba also said R350 million had been set aside to address 426 remaining sanitation projects and this project would ensure the eradication of pit latrines in the province.
The MEC said that in this financial year the department will supply Information and Communication Technology resources to 132 schools and deliver equipment and consumables to 40 technical high schools.
He also said that there are 128 schools which will receive laboratory equipment and consumables and ten agricultural schools will be supplied with equipment, tools and consumables.
Adding that his department had set aside R201 million to maintain the current provincial 1 650 bursary holders, of this number 311 are studying in Russia.
“There are 20 students who graduated in 2020 and 17 of them have already been placed in the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport in a programme for professional registration,” he said.
The Western Cape Department of Education received R24.5 billion for the 2021/22 financial year.
In her budget speech MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer said the province planned to build new high schools in Sir Lowry’s Pass, Hout Bay and Mfuleni in the Cape Town metro, along with Moorreesburg in the West Coast district and Hermanus in the Overberg district.
She also said in line with the province’s economic needs and strategic priorities of expanding access to STEAMAC [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects, the province plans to complete an aeronautical sciences school in the Cape Winelands and is currently planning an agriculture school in the same district. Schäfer said the department is also planning to open a School of Skills in Manenberg to ensure that learners in that area are able to access more inclusive learning opportunities. The school is scheduled for completion in the 2023/24 financial year.
Some schools in the Western Cape have been victims of gang-related-fights. In order to ensure schools are safe, Schäfer said there is a commitment to build 30 high-security fences in schools each year, including in hotspots.
“As part of the Western Cape Recovery Plan, 20 fences scheduled for delivery by the end of the 2021/22 financial year have been fast tracked, for delivery by July this year instead. An amount of R30 million has been allocated for fencing in this financial year,” she said.
The Department received a budget allocation of R18 billion.
MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela said Covid-19 gave the department an opportunity to fast-track its ICT roll-out to schools. The department is going to spend R12 million to connect 75% of schools through WIFI and broadband for learning in this financial year, according to Matsemela.
“It will be a significant leap from the current 25%, and we hope to reach 100% in the 2022 financial year,”she said. She said this initiative is going to benefit 638 801 learners at no-fee schools in the province.
Matsemela also said the department provided 30 292 tablets to grade 12 learners for interactive learning during the pandemic.
The department is also in the process of procuring security services for 11 farm schools and 32 special needs schools and the offices of the department.
“ Owing to financial constraints the department is unable to offer security services at all our schools, but will strive towards universal provision of security service in the near future,” she said.
The department has also set aside R614-million for the construction of 33 schools and the replacement of school’s projects. It has also budgeted R42-million for repairs and renovations of schools that have been damaged by storms.