Minister Grant presented the budget speech for the provincial Department of Education earlier today. Below is a summary of the highlights of the speech.
The provision of a quality education is fundamental to this government’s overarching vision of an open opportunity society for all. The importance attached to this vision is reflected in the2011/2012 provincial budget.* R42 billion has been allocated over the 2011 MTEF for education, with an allocation of R13, 332 billion for the 2011/12 financial year. This represents an 11% increase from the previous financial year.
* This time last year, I stood in front of the house faced with a legacy from the previous government of a provincial education system in decline. One year on, we can confidently say that there has been a positive shift in education and that significant progress has been made in laying the necessary foundation to achieve our overall objectives. All the relevant indicators now show that learner outcomes are improving across the board. For example, we have arrested a six year decline in the matric pass rate, with more learners having passed the 2010 NSC exams than ever before, subject performance in critical subjects such as Life Sciences and Physical Sciences improved and more learners achieving more distinctions. More schools reached a 90% pass rate and above and only 4 candidates out the 35177 who passed did not achieve a pass with access to some form of higher education, and we managed to turn around is the number of underperforming schools.
* In order to sustain the improvements made at the top end of the system, the WCED have reintroduced their Grade 12 improvement plan, which includes strategies such as the tutoring programme, an expansion of the telematics programme, textbook top-ups, intensified management support and teacher development courses. R9.5 million has been allocated to this programme, with spending set to rise between 5-7% over the next two financial years.
* Today I am making an unprecedented commitment to ensure that over the next three years, every child from Grades 1-12 will have a textbook in every subject that he or she is taking. This is a first in SA history and we have therefore allocated in 2011/12, in addition to the norms and standards allocations to schools, R129 million on textbook allocation. This is expected to rise to R147 205 000 in 2012/13. In total we will spend R385 700 000 in textbooks over the next three years.
* Our teachers remain our most important asset and biggest expense, with R8,8 billion being spent on teacher salaries and R91 million has been allocated for teacher training.
* The vast majority of our resources, after teacher salaries, areput quite rightly into schools that serve poorer communities. We have prioritised the allocation of educator posts to our poorer schools, and we have, for the first time, allocated R41 million to help assist schools for fee exemptions. The amount allocated for this purpose is the highest in the country.
* This year, we will continue to build on the momentum we generated in our infrastructure plan last year. The WCED has allocated R688 million this year on the plan, compared to R560 million in the last financial year. Eight schools are currently under construction, with a further fifteen in their planning stages. Fifteen replacement schools are also in their planning stages, with four schools expected for completion this year.
* In 2011/2012 we will spend R23 million on the safe schoolsprogramme, an increase of R1 million from the previous financial year.
* In order to improve the learning environment even further, thisgovernment is currently auditing ICT infrastructure which can support schools with a view to facilitating a cheaper and high speed broad network for all schools. Once we have completed the audit we will know the extent of the investment required. We have had a welcome and very kind offer of free broad band access for schools from Mark Shuttleworth through a second undersea cable. We will, however, only be able to take full advantage of this offer once the audit is complete. But there is no doubt in my mind that in the next 3-5 years that there is a very real prospect that we will dramatically improve the levels of information technology in our schools and in so doing enhance learner outcomes.
* The Western Cape already leads the country in the provision ofspecial needs education. Our ongoing commitment to these learners is reflected in the R804 million allocation to this programme in 2011/12, representing a 15% increase from last year. In terms of the overall percentage of our budget, this allocation towards special needs education puts us on a par with developed countries.