Equal Education

EQUAL EDUCATION WELCOMES MINISTER’S BUDGET VOTE SPEECH, BUT SHE FAILED TO ADDRESS KEY ISSUES RELATING TO SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTRE AND TEACHER DISTRIBUTION

Thursday, 14 April 2011

EQUAL EDUCATION

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

14 MARCH 2010

EQUAL EDUCATION WELCOMES MINISTER’S BUDGET VOTE SPEECH, BUT SHE FAILED TO ADDRESS KEY ISSUES RELATING TO SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTRE AND TEACHER DISTRIBUTION

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga’s budget vote speech in Parliament yesterday highlighted many positive initiatives that the Department has undertaken to improve the quality of education in the country. Equal Education (EE) supports the Minister particularly in the following announcements contained in her speech yesterday:

Initiatives from 2010

  • the development of Action Plan 2014: towards the realisation of Schooling 2025;
  • the development of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS);
  • the development of a Performance and Evaluation System (NEEDU);
  • the development and distribution of Workbooks for numeracy and literacy;
  • and the introduction of Annual National Assessments (in which 6.9 million learners participated and which is aimed at assessing literacy and numeracy levels particularly in foundation phases of schooling;

Initiatives going forward

  • Budget Increase - The Department of Basic Education’s budget has increased from by R6.369 billion (2010/2011) to R13.868 billion for the 2011/2012 financial year.
  • Textbook provisioning - The commitment to reviewing the procurement policies for text-books with a view to centralising procurement policies and the development of a ‘book policy’ which would introduce a national catalogue of subject text-books. (According to a 2009 study by Social Surveys and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), 50% of all learners between 16-18 have to share textbooks.) The initiative mentioned by the Minister will go a long way towards reducing  the costs of text books, which will impact on the department’s goal of providing a text book for every learner in every subject by 2014. EE will be monitoring this closely.
  • Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme - This is a critical initiative to attract more teachers into the system who are then able to teach in the poorest schools. But proper incentives must be offered to attract and keep teachers in the poorest schools. Equal Education supports this initiative and will also continue to encourage our members and other young people to take part in this initiative and to pursue careers in teaching.
  • Focus on improving 18 poorly performing districts in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
  • Focus on School Infrastructure Provisioning - The intention to attend to 3627 schools below basic safety by 2014.
  • Teacher training and development initiative

Together, these initiatives are important in addressing the need to have proper monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for both systemic challenges as well as delivery outcomes such as improved learner performance.   

However, there are critical steps which must still be taken in order to ensure that the initiatives mentioned above are properly translated in actual improvements in the system and the quality of education.  These include:

  • Equitable distribution of teachers – The Minister failed to mention the need for revision of the current post-provisioning norms. The unequal distribution of teachers across our public schools is a major challenge to our education system and perpetuates inequality in access to quality education. This is a key issue that must be addressed on a pro-poor basis. The current model, which allocates teachers to public schools, has no pro-poor bias or redistributive plan. In fact, because well-resourced suburban schools attract better qualified teachers, government spends more on every child in the suburban schools, than it does on learners in township schools, in respect of teachers, the key educational resources. The existing model further does not account for the amount of additional teachers that privileged schools hire. There is an urgent need for it to be revised.
  • School infrastructure - The Minister failed to mention that the DBE, in June 2010, adopted the most significant policy on school infrastructure since democracy, called the National Policy for and Equitable Provision of an Enabling School Physical Teaching and Learning Environment (NPEP). Why did the Minister not mention this as a significant achievement of 2010? Is it because the policy calls forNational Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure by 1 April 2011, which to date the Minister has failed to deliver?

This policy clearly stated the need for National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure to ensure that any funds invested in school infrastructure provisioning would be properly spent in a programmatic and equitable way. The NPEP clearly set the end of the 2010/2011 financial year as the deadline for adoption of National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, but this deadline has not been met. Thus, although the Minister has committed large funds to the improvement of school infrastructure, this has been done without the adoption of the norms and standards. The adoption of these norms and standards would also assist in ensuring that financial accountability and proper oversight. The Norms and Standards will also allow communities to hold Circuit Team Managers and districts accountable, something the Minister has correctly identified as a problem.

The Minister has committed to building 25 libraries, 6 laboratories, and the prioritisation of 85 mud schools. This is a far cry from the need to address the backlogs in school infrastructure, which include 19 239 schools without libraries; 20 717 without laboratories; and 400 mud schools. The National Department needs the support of the Provinces in addressing these backlogs. It is only through the adoption of the National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure that the DBE will be able to ensure that the provinces align their plans and budgets to assist in achieving the goal of getting all our schools to a functional level.

For more information contact:

Yoliswa Dwane at 021 387 0022 or 072 342 7747

Dmitri Holtzman at 082 733 5000

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