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Sunday, December 5, 2021

PART 2: What provincial departments of education will focus on in the 2021/2022 financial year

NALEDI SHOTA|

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.  

Part two looks at Gauteng, the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Gauteng 

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. 

Northern Cape 

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. 

KwaZulu-Natal 

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.

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