Western Cape Education Budget 2020/21

Education (WCPP)

13 March 2020
Chairperson: Ms L Botha (DA)
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Meeting Summary

The Western Cape Provincial Minister of Education noted that the budget had not improved. The R500 million budget cut despite the large growth in the number of learners being schooled in the Western Cape left the Department under significant pressure to balance all the varying needs that required more money. She noted the protests over transport for learners and certain schools not being built.

The WCED Head of Department said it had been challenging to formulate the budget for the next five years. He noted that over the past five years funding had been directed toward foundation phase learning, language and mathematics. As a consequence other areas which needed attention were neglected. It recognised that it has to do more in the skills environment and soft skills. In line with the national Department of Basic Education thinking on technical education, the Western Cape will focus on enhancing skills education within the province as it had been neglected for a long time. WCED has reduced district and circuit funding to support teacher training in the classrooms and has taken away some funding from the inclusive education budget and on learner transport. He reiterated that due to the growing number of learners, there simply is not enough funding for schools, teachers and the necessary resources.

Committee members asked how many learners had still not be placed in schools for 2020 and if it had met the deadline. Concerns about online applications were raised due to accessibility to the online medium for all parents. Safety and fencing at schools were raised. Committee members asked how the Department planned to curb coronavirus at schools and if they would be closed down as already eight private schools had already been closed. Activists and community representatives in attendance at the meeting highlighted concerns about the lack of schools in their areas and about promises of establishing schools without success. They also highlighted transport and safety challenges learners faced and expressed their concern over the Department's budgetary constraints.

Meeting report

Ms Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Education, stated that in terms of the budget, the department is still in a similar position as it was the previous year. Despite having received extra money for growth, the budget baseline has been cut thus leaving the department in a bad position due to the growth in learner numbers it has seen over the last five years. There is huge pressure on the system and it is a balancing act for the Western Cape Education Department in trying to prioritise all the different needs. WCED has done well in dealing with this but it needs more money. The increase in learners means there are public protests about learner transport and not being able to build certain schools anymore. She stressed that there are increasing pressures every day without the requisite funding.

Mr Brian Schreuder, WCED Head of Education, said that it has been a tough time trying to fit in the budget for the next five years. A lot of thinking on the budget has focused on the fact that for the past five years most of the engagement was on getting foundational learning, language and mathematics right – and thus a lot of academic focus. As a consequence, the department had not been able to focus on items such as educating the whole child. This narrow achievement alone is problematic. WCED also recognised that it has to do more on the skills environment and soft skills. In line with the national department thinking on technical education, it will focus on enhancing skills education in the province as it had been neglected for a long time.

There had been talk of a R1 billion budget cut for 2020/21, however only R500 million was cut. The reprieve has not eradicated backlogs. In reality the current budget does not compensate for everything that has to be done such as the high school improvement programme. WCED attempted to cut the learner transport budget because the programme was implemented in areas that the policy does not allow for such as in areas where there is public transport. The reality is that WCED cannot do everything. It has also reduced the district and circuit funding to support teacher training in the classrooms. WCED has had to do a number of things including taking away some funding from the inclusive education budget. Another challenge relates to the demands from the national department such as supporting second chance learners. Although WCED believes in supporting these learners, the reality is that there is not enough funds for this. WCED believes that Department of Higher Education should also be brought on board to give these learners more support. Due to the growing number of learners, there simply is not enough funding for schools ,teachers and necessary resources which has proven challenging for WCED to balance all these demands.

Mr K Sayed (ANC) commended the Head of Department and the Provincial Minister for their assistance with learner placement. He asked for the latest statistics on learner placements and challenges faced by WCED in meeting its learner placement deadline which had been set for the end of February.

Mr Schreuder replied that there were currently 1265 unplaced learners – 295 are grade R learners and about 300 are grade 8 learners with others dispersed across all grades. WCED had been under the impression that it would have placed all learners by end of February however this has not been the case. It is looking at finding schools within the areas that learners reside and engaging with schools to place these learners. Additionally, it is doing daily follow-ups to verify if these learners can be reached. WCED has not been able to reach some of the learners. The assumption is either these learners have been placed or that they have moved back to their home province to study there. Another challenge is that the figures WCED has may not be accurate. It understands the position of the learners and parents and is doing everything possible to address the matter.

Mr Sayed indicated that the Committee had noted that many parents, especially those in the rural areas, were having challenges with the online application process. He asked what challenges WCED had experienced with the online applications for next year. Did it intend to extend the closing date for applications as the closing date was approaching? Did it intend to make staff available within communities to assist parents who were struggling with the online application process?

Mr R Allen (DA) asked if the WCED system could track when the unplaced learners had applied so that WCED could differentiate between learners who applied the previous year and those who recently applied for placement. In addition, what strategies and communication was there to ensure that parents played a more active role in the learner application process.

Ms L Botha (DA) asked if WCED intended to do things differently based on the current challenges with the online application system.

Mr Schreuder explained that the pilot for the online application was done in 2018 for 2019 placements. At the time, the number of schools that had participated in the pilot increased from about 300 to 750 schools, which is half of the schools within the province. During this period, WCED indicated that parents could apply either online or manually. WCED was blown away by the huge demand for the online application system by parents. This is because WCED had also asked schools to support parents who did not have the online system and to capture paper-based applications on behalf of parents. However, WCED had been overwhelmed by the recent surge in online applications despite having anticipated and prepared for such an increase. Parents have also been faced with Wi-Fi challenges where it had either not worked or the signal was too weak. This was potentially due to load shedding as departmental officials have been able to get onto the system with those parent’s details. He stated that this was a process, and whenever WCED tackles something new, it does it in phases to ensure that there is recourse for parents who may struggle. However, WCED was aware that this information was not communicated to all and had asked schools on a number of occasions to ensure that the information is presented. Thus far there had been 291 311 online applications which is roughly two to four applications per parent. 85 200 parents have captured their own applications and 40 720 applications have been captured by the schools on behalf of parents.

Although WCED understands the challenges faced by parents, it first had to assess the situation before considering a possible extension to the deadline. This is because an extension would put pressure on the system and delay other processes including the timelines for learner acceptance by schools.

Mr Schreuder replied about late placement learners that WCED is only able to track learner movement in the system if the learner had applied in the appropriate way. However, where parents or communities have pressured schools to accept learners after the application closing date, WCED is not able to track the learner's application and placement. Although insignificant in number, these cases do undermine WCED’s efforts to have an organised system.

The system is not yet fully online. When the system becomes fully online, WCED will still make provision for parents who are unable to apply online. Either parents can go to schools to get online or have their paper-based applications captured on their behalf. WCED believes that the demand for paper-based applications will eventually decrease.

Moving forward WCED intended to be firm on the closing date for the parents to accept a learner placement offer from a school. Should parents fail to accept the learner placement in time, WCED would place the learner in that school. This is to avoid a situation where parents delay having the learner placed which had been the case the previous year.

MEC Schäfer emphasised that WCED intended to follow through and put pressure on parents to stick to the deadlines for learner placement. The Department was aware that some schools had been communicating incorrect information and refusing to accept paper-based applications, which was wrong. She asked that everyone share the correct information with the public. She was aware of community members who had availed themselves to help parents with the online applications, which was very helpful.

Ms Botha asked what WCED’s catch-up plan was for unplaced learners. She wanted to know how WCED ensured that teachers with high teacher to learner ratios remain sane and happy.

Mr Schreuder highlighted that WCED had decreased the number of unplaced learners from 24 000 to 1200, which was major achievement. It would continue to try and have the remaining learners placed, though it cannot give an exact deadline for the placements.

On the high teacher to learner ratio, WCED had written to schools and teachers explaining that there is not enough money to accommodate the growing number of learners. WCED had found teachers to be very understanding and it commended them for that. To support teachers, he appealed to community members to volunteer and assist teachers in the classrooms. Many people are unemployed and can afford to offer some of their time to the schools. This type of model had worked brilliantly in other countries. The Department is also investing in teachers, helping them to come to grips with realities such as children’s lousy behaviour and societal issues spilling over into schools. It has noted the increasing pressure on teachers’ wellbeing as outlined in the strategic plan and commends teachers for their work.

Mr Schreuder replied that WCED requests schools to provide catch-up programmes for learners placed late in schools.

Ms Botha said that she assumed the necessary resources were given to learners for the catch-up programmes.

Mr Schreuder responded that it depended on how resources were defined. In terms of textbooks and stationery, WCED did support schools to make provision for the learners. However, the concern is that with the exploding learner numbers, there are not enough textbooks for learners. Therefore, there are instances where learners have to share textbooks or learners are not permitted to take textbooks home, which is unacceptable.

Ms Botha informed the Committee that the discussion would now focus on the Budget Review from page 159 up until the annexure.

Mr Sayed asked in reference to WCED planning and management functions, how it planned to curb the spread of the coronavirus at schools. Moreover, why were eight schools closed today?

On improving safety at schools and the provision of high security fencing as outlined on page 160, how many schools were identified for security fencing for 2020/21? He noted that a number of schools including Mfuleni Primary School, Manenberg High School and The Hague Primary School amongst others had recently raised this matter with Committee members.

Referring to page 161, he asked if WCED had engaged Treasury about utilising the provincial reserve to address the shrinking budget for an increasing number of learners. The funds could be used to build new schools and employ new teachers. In addition, had WCED looked into engaging with Model C schools to accept more learners so as to avoid overcrowding at other schools? What mechanisms were in place to monitor how these Model C schools placed learners? He requested that WCED provide the Committee with a breakdown of the manual and online applications received by schools, the acceptances, rejections and reasons for rejections from the schools.

Mr Sayed referred to safety at schools in paragraph 3 on page 162 that stated that metro municipalities had assigned law enforcement officers to schools. In terms of rural schools, what was the level of engagement and commitment from municipalities to do the same? Also on the subject of school safety, what was the latest development on the impasse between WCED and the Khayelitsha Education Forum?

On the capital expenditure decrease outlined on page 163, had WCED engaged with Treasury about infrastructure needs and asked for an increment. What progress had been made on the building of the Rooiwal School in Kuils River? According to information received by the school, a commitment was made in 2009 and he pointed out that the school is not in the current WCED Annual Performance Plan [see https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/annual-performance-plan]. Why was this the case? What had WCED done with the Bloekombos community’s proposal for a temporary high school, as vacant land and unutilised mobile classrooms were made available for WCED to use? Which stakeholders had WCED engaged with on the building of the Manenberg Primary School - particularly in light of the ongoing gang violence in the area - what measures had WCED taken to ensure the safety of the workers, infrastructure and that of departmental officials visiting the area?

On improving the quality of teaching through e-learning on page 165, Mr Sayed requested a detailed report on the impact and performance of the Collaboration Schools and possibly having a separate meeting for the presentation. He asked what has been the impact of the school evaluation authority for 2019/20. What was the difference between the school evaluation authority, circuit manager and the district office?

In reference to learner transport on page 167, Mr Sayed requested clarity on why learner transport in Beaufort West had been reinstated. Moreover, would the same reasons be applicable in other cases?

Western Cape Minister Schäfer responded that WCED had issued two communications to schools on the coronavirus matter. It had been working very closely with the Health Department and did not want people to panic. The closing of the eight independent schools had been done as a precautionary measure as one of the parents from the schools had shown symptoms of the virus upon returning from overseas. The parent had gone for testing and had been self-isolating since then. WCED had not heard of any other confirmed cases and it had been engaging with the schools on the measures that needed to be taken should there be any other cases. WCED’s core message was for individuals not to panic and to take the necessary precautionary measures.

Mr Schreuder stated that WCED will only close schools if there is a need. It has communicated with schools how to deal with the necessary precautionary measures to be taken if there are parents or learners who after the holidays come back from overseas, how to deal with confirmed cases and cases where individuals show symptoms. WCED also communicated with teachers to think of ways of ensuring continued learning, should schools be forced to close such as e-learning or work that can be done at home.

He replied that WCED had engaged with both Provincial and National Treasury on a number of occasions. The Minister had even engaged with the Finance Minister, Mr Tito Mboweni, and asked for more money. Despite there being lots of money allocated to education in South Africa, the money is not distributed properly. There are some provinces where schools are completely empty but continue operating because the unions will not allow the government to shut down these schools. The reality is that the money is not going where the children are and this needed to change.

Western Cape Education Minister Schafer replied that WCED had addressed the topic of Model C schools on numerous occasions. However, to reiterate, these schools do have learner placement policies. WCED and the Head of Department had forced schools to take learners before. This however did not solve the problem as this may potentially result in parents moving their children from Model C schools to private schools and the public system losing money. She pointed out that it is a difficult balancing act. Recently WCED had intervened in an appeal to place learners in former Model C schools where there seemed to be some form of discriminatory practice. The mechanism in place is for parents to appeal to the minister whenever they felt that there was some form of discrimination taking place. Another challenge is that the places needed are not always in areas where the children are, which results in parents not being able to afford transportation to get to the schools. The Minister stressed that WCED was doing all it possibly could.

On Rooiwal, the challenge was securing land, however it was currently in the process of being transferred. Until the transfer process is over, WCED cannot commit to planning as it could be doing other things with the money in the meantime.

On Bloekombos, Mr Schreduer indicated that WCED cannot simply start building, because there is land available. It needed to follow the plan of action and balance the demand of the entire province. WCED cannot simply put up temporary schools as these would require teachers. WCED has explained to the community why there was a delay with Rooiwal High School.

Mr Schreuder replied that WCED does engage with other departments such as the Department of Human Settlements and their projects. However, the Collaboration Schools are still pilots and it is still early days. The current challenge is that the initiative is directed towards the technical needs.

Mr Schreuder commented that it would not be a good idea for the all the provincial reserve money to be spent on the education department although everyone here would like that.

On the Collaboration Schools, Ms Schafer replied that overall the results seem to be promising and their results are improving in comparison to the province as a whole.

She said the difference between the school evaluation authority and the district office is that the SEA do independent evaluation of schools by consulting with relevant stakeholders including parents, teachers, principals and governing bodies and provide a report on items that need to be addressed.

Transport was reinstated in the Beaufort West area, because an appeal had been sent to the Minister after WCED had for good reasons declined the application. The reason the appeal was successful is because the minister had evaluated the situation and noted that it was not safe for children to cross the road. It is a national road, with a large number of learners that need to cross the road. However there are no traffic lights at any of the pedestrian crossings nor traffic officers to assist learners with crossing the road. This is not a long term solution and WCED is engaging with the various district mayors to come up with a more sustainable solution. She pointed out that this was a very specific circumstance and did not mean that the same would apply to other areas.

Western Cape Minister Schafer said it was not feasible to provide feedback on who had been placed or rejected by a particular school as this would demand an extraordinary amount of time and human resources.

Mr Schreuder replied that at present there were no rejections, however the term “rejection” is problematic as schools often get more applications then they can accept. WCED monitors the admissions progress by ensuring that schools follow the admissions guidelines. WCED has processes in place that allows it to intervene in learner placement.

Mr Allen asked if WCED had consulted with other departments during the formulation of the safety budget for fencing and school infrastructure. Had it looked at ways to improve the Safe Schools Programme to ensure that the outcomes were more tangible. He requested a breakdown of the number of calls received by the Safe Schools call centre about safety concerns.

On school security fencing and schools protesting, Western Cape Minister Schafer stressed that WCED would not do government by protest. WCED had a plan of action and it had identified schools needing fencing and it would stick to its plan. Although WCED would like to provide at once all schools in need of fencing, there simply was not enough money to do so.

Mr Schreuder replied that there is a target of 150 schools per year for fencing. The Safe Schools Programme has a budget of R30.6 million. The Safe Schools call centre baseline is 660 calls per annum. The target is to reduce violence by 2% per annum which is an ambitious target considering that it is dependent on societal factors such as the increase in violence in society. WCED does have ongoing discussions with municipalities on safety. There are Community Police Forum meetings where WCED raises issues with municipalities. There is a task team.

Western Cape Education Minister Schafer requested that the Committee call the South African Police Service (SAPS) to share with the Committee what they are doing about safety as it is their core mandate. She pointed out that WCED has a number of cases which it still needed feedback on. WCED cannot address both education and safety concerns on its own. It also cannot combat vandalism and gangsterism on its own, but it is engaging with all role players whenever it can.

Mr M Kama (ANC) asked if WCED had a cut-off date for learner placements for schools. He raised the question, because the Committee did not want to have a situation where schools would still be waiting for parents to accept the placement of their children by early next year. He sought clarity on who was responsible for safety at schools, as it had recently come to the Committee’s attention that WCED had received R50 million for safety at schools. This is despite the fact that WCED had on a number of occasions indicated that safety is not its responsibility but the community’s responsibility.

Mr Kama asked what was WCED’s contribution towards discussions and planning on the movement of people to new social development housing projects and areas without schools?

He noted that there may be an error in Table 8.1 on page 174, where it states that there had been a 163% increase in the Office of the MEC. He requested clarity on the figures.

Mr Schreuder replied that WCED does engage with other departments on social development initiatives. However it is a challenge as it cannot stop the other departments from providing social housing simply because WCED cannot afford to build new schools. It is an ongoing problem.

Mr G Bosman (DA) asked why the funding for the National School Nutrition Programme had decreased. He asked if there was an update on the court cases around the Collaboration Schools? He wanted to know how the school evaluations were going.

Mr Schreuder replied about the School Nutrition Programme that there is a reduction for fourth term funding as there are fewer learners. There are different experiments taking place.

Ms Schafer stated that the only place with quality feeding is the Western Cape.

Mr Sayed referred to Manenberg Primary School again and asked who is involved and who the stakeholders are. He asked about the safety of state officials.

Mr Schreuder replied that there has been lots of consultation with varying layers of stakeholders including the Department and the City of Cape Town, the Manenberg Forum and school principals.

A WCED official commented that the project started four years ago and was driven by two spheres of government. The Manenberg Community Action Plan has been accepted by the steering committee. Unfortunately, the plan had to be revisited and that is what is currently taking place.

Mr Sayed referred to page 108 on Early Childhood Development and asked for the reasons for decreasing the ECD budget? What will be done this year to ensure that the province improves matric performance. Why is WCED not allowing isiXhosa-speaking learners to write their exams in isiXhosa such as is done in the Eastern Cape as this could potentially improve learner results. He noted that he had received some accusations that WCED was consulting with people in the Manenberg area who are gang bosses. He requested clarity on this.

Ms Schafer asked Mr Sayed if he would like WCED to keep back learners which is something other provinces are doing in order to have higher matric pass rates but which encouraged dropping out. Did he want the province to be number one at all costs or did he want to improve the system and thereby keep learners in the system without dropping out? She noted that she had not been involved in the Manenberg discussions and would refer this question to Mr Schreuder.

Mr Schreuder replied that the ECD funding has been decreased to make provision for teacher funding to retain teachers. The training funds will be moved to other areas that will be more impactful. The Eastern Cape has a dual exam process, however for this to be feasible there needs to be Xhosa textbooks and it requires teachers who will be able to mark the papers. WCED is monitoring the experiment. A further challenge is that the Xhosa dialects are different. Another question this raises is whether learners would be able to study in Xhosa in their tertiary education.

Mr Schreuder confirmed that there have been schools in Manenberg where engagement with gangs has led to schools being safer.

Mr Sayed replied that the Committee does not want learners to drop out. He clarified that he was not saying WCED should have learners dropping out. It was not about pitting one against the other. Education was a holistic concept. He wanted to put on record that he is not in any sense saying that WCED should have learners drop out. Matric results could be improved if learners were retained in the system.

Ms Botha asked what the impact of an increased training budget would be. What is the completion date for the "Kofako" school which the Committee had previously visited?

Ms Lesline McGlenatendolf, WCED Chief Director of Physical Resources, replied that the school will be completed before the end of the year so that the learners can start attending in 2021.

The Chairperson indicated that there were members of the public in attendance who wanted to pose questions on the budget or the strategic plan.

Questions from the public
Ms Charlotte Heynes, a councillor for the City of Cape Town representing the Mfuleni area, referred to pages 144 and 147 and said WCED had promised in October last year to build a school in Mfuleni and she pointed out that there was no progress. She wanted to know why this was the case. The current situation is that both primary and high school learners in Mfuleni are in one school. What is WCED's plan on learners having to be transported to other areas to study in their mother language such as isiXhosa speaking learners. She stated that she would put in writing the other questions that she had for WCED.

Ms Linda Simons, a councillor for the City of Cape Town representing the Kuils River area, said she wanted to comment on the Minister’s statements on the budget and that there was a lack of funding. She did not understand why such an important department did not have funds. She pointed out that the number of unplaced learners figures are incorrect as since last year there were more than 200 children who were not placed. Children are taking drugs such as dagga because of the fact that they were not placed in schools as yet. She referred to page 145 and said that Happy Valley did not have a school and the school in Silversands did not even accommodate a quarter of the children from the area. She asked if WCED could build temporary schools in order to combat crime. Classes are overcrowded with sometimes more than 45 children in a class thus learners do not get the attention they need. Some of them cannot read or write.

The Chairperson asked if the 200 unplaced learners Ms Simons referred to were still unplaced.

Ms Simons replied that she was still awaiting a list of children that are yet to be placed.

Western Cape Education Minister Schafer replied that the province is only allocated a certain amount from the share of money which goes to National Government from taxes. This is split amongst the provinces and it was reliant on this. The province had to raise further funds on its own. WCED wanted and needed more money, but the country’s financial status at present also made it worse for WCED. WCED was working with neighbourhood watches for community safety. WCED had been requested to place security guards at the school, however she noted that this causes them to become targets. She added that WCED was working on a new model.

Mr Schreuder said that children taking dagga because they were not placed in schools was not true. They did this irrespective and this was a societal issue. There was nothing WCED could do about overcrowding as this was a reality that teachers were faced with too. All that could be done was to appeal to parents and communities to keep children more disciplined as parents were not instilling value systems in their children.

Ms Nolufefe Mbombo, a councillor from Atlantis, asked why Atlantis did not have a new primary school since the community had been around since the late 1990s. The community has engaged with WCED for help. Learners struggle with transport. The City had leased land for a temporary school, but nothing was happening. She asked when WCED was going to start building the school.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Mbombo had the correspondence in writing.

Ms Mbombo said she did not have it with her, but could arrange for it to be brought to the Committee.

Ms Schafer emphasised that it was not a quick and easy process to set up a temporary school as this was still a proper school that needed to be set up. She pointed out that to set up one mobile classroom cost approximately R500 000 and teachers also needed to be found.

Mr Lance Abrahams, WCED Chief Education Specialist, acknowledged the efforts of activists and community representatives from Atlantis. He said in areas like Mfuleni access to water and electricity proved to be a bigger issue and WCED has noted the effect of temporary toilets on schools and it did not want past issues to occur again. All of these factors were taken into account for the budget. There has been extensive engagement with communities in Mfuleni, Happy Valley and Eerste River and plans have been made to deliver on having schools in these areas. A temporary primary school was built in Mfuleni and the next priority agreed upon is the High School in Mfuleni. The land has been acquired and fenced. The broader plan for Mfuleni, Happy Valley and Silversands revolves around land availability. The budget plan prioritises the East and North Metro districts.

Mr Mpumzi Giwu, Secretary General of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in the Western Cape, asked about learner placement and language at schools. There had been 1 265 learners who were not placed. It was not clear if this number had changed since there was a system of both online and manual applications. WCED had already opened applications for the year 2021 and it was expected that the 1 265 unplaced learners would have preference in 2021 as it was clear that some of those learners would not be placed in the current year. He asked what the core role of the Safe Schools Programme and WCED was for safety at schools and if this was the responsibility of the community.

Mr Schreuder replied that the school safety focus of WCED is based on ensuring the safety of people in schools which includes fences, access control through electric gates in key areas and CCTV cameras. He was concerned that there was no way to ensure the total safety of schools as some learners bring weapons on to the school property.

Mr Roscoe Jacobs, a Hout Bay community activist, thanked Mr Sayed for his informative questions and comments as members of the public were not aware of some of the issues raised. He referred to the Annual Performance Plan on page 7 and the strategic priorities over the next five years which speak to improving school functionality and the quality of teaching. He raised a question about teachers having a platform to voice their grievances. He pointed out that teachers were afraid of raising their concerns as they were afraid of being victimised. WCED planning needed to be more effective to ensure it was not faced with the same challenges each time. He referred to pages 143 to 146 which dealt with infrastructure projects. The MEC had announced that a new high school offering technical and vocational skills would be built but this was not reflected in the budget for the next 10 years. He appealed to the MEC to come and engage with the community on this. He stressed that the community did not want promises, but wanted to see results.

He referred to page 156 which dealt with fencing and a budget for disasters. The Hout Bay school fence had been damaged by strong winds at the start of the first term. WCED should have fixed the fence long ago. This was not done and it poses a safety risk for teachers and learners as anyone can enter the school grounds and learners were now easily able to leave the school during the day. He had made MEC aware of this fencing problem via social media. The school in question had also followed the correct channels of contacting WCED about the fence.

Ms Schafer said she generally did not respond to messages on social media as she did not believe this was the most suitable platform to engage. Mr Jacobs was more than welcome to engage her office at any time or she could meet with him in a mutually suitable space. WCED had to try and stretch the budget that was available to build the technical and vocational schools.

Mr Schreuder said he understood that the councillors and community representatives were under pressure from parents and their communities. It was about trying to balance the interests and demands from a particular area versus the entire province's demands. It is important to remember that a primary school consisted of eight grades and a high school consisted of five grades, thus there would be fewer high schools as opposed to primary schools.

Mr Schreuder said that WCED should be engaged to repair the broken fences. The context of WCED supporting the mending of fences is to support the Safety Drive. WCED will repair the fencing that had been vandalised.

In her closing remarks, Western Cape Education Minister Schafer thanked her team and the Committee for their engagement.

Meeting adjourned.


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