Western Cape Additional Adjustments Appropriation Bill (2022/23 financial year) & Western Cape Appropriation Bill: Education

Education (WCPP)

17 March 2023
Chairperson: Ms D Baartman (DA)
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Meeting Summary


Western Cape Appropriation Bill 2023

Western Cape Additional Adjustments Appropriation Bill 2023

The Committee was briefed by the Western Cape Education Department, led by the Provincial Minister, Mr David Maynier, on the Department’s budget for 2023/24.

The Minister said that the R29.5 billion budget was the biggest of all the provincial departments and this showed the commitment to improving education. It would help to improve learning outcomes and increase the quality of education.

Committee Members voiced concern about matters such as a lack of special-needs infrastructure in schools; registration issues; unplaced learners; classroom overcrowding; the safety of learners and teachers; and vandalism, theft and gang-related activity at schools.

Members of the public raised concerns such as a lack of infrastructure for learners with disabilities; an educational crisis in rural areas; ECD practitioner issues; and funding for non-formal education.

The Department responded that it was on track with the placement of learners, but there was a struggle in placing those who arrived late. A budget of R46 million was allocated for school safety. A policy decision needed to be made on whether schools would have metal detectors and other detection equipment. There was random drug testing in schools. There were school holiday programmes in high-risk areas to prevent learners from joining the wrong crowds. The well-being of staff was a priority. There were courses they could take to provide emotional support to learners.

Mass Participation, Opportunity and Access, Development and Growth (MOD) centres were located in schools and their services were spread to neighbouring schools.

The Department said there would be discussions about increasing the number of schools for those with autism and other learning disabilities.

The majority of Members supported the Budget Vote. The ANC minority opposed it.

Meeting report

Discussion on Vote 5: Education

The Chairperson referred to an additional R15 million allocated for infrastructure. What were the criteria for this additional money? How many provinces received this additional money?

Mr Brent Walters, Head of Department (HOD), said all nine provinces received this grant. There was some under-expenditure in Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape. This was retained and the Western Cape received R115 million from this as well.

The Chairperson said the under-expenditure was sad because students moved to other provinces to get a better quality of education.

Mr David Maynier, Provincial Minister of Education, said the R29.5 billion budget was the biggest of all departments, showing the commitment to improving education. It would help to improve learning outcomes and increase the quality of education. The R30 million allocation for reading materials would improve access. The R2,9 billion infrastructure budget would help access and see to learners with special needs. There was R61,6 million for school feeding and R40 million for energy resilience.

Mr Walters said the new budget was great news. It would help relieve pressure on educator posts, access, infrastructure, etc. For the national conditional grants, there was an increase of R109 million in the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG); the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) grant was R29,2 million; the Early Childhood Development (ECD) grant increased by R12,2 million; and the Profound Intellectual Disability (PID) grant increased by R3 million. This showed trust in the Department. Provisions were made in the budget for school resource officers, school safety and teacher training. There was also an allocation for the Presidential Youth Employment initiative that employed 19 500 youths.

Estimates of Expenditure: pages 171-180

Mr K Sayed (ANC) referred to page 172 on main services and core functions. Where was the Department on the issue of unplaced learners and how did the budget speak to this? Regarding paragraph 2, could there be more information on ordinary public schools? How much would be allocated to the rapid school build programme and what material was used to build these schools?

Ms A Cassiem (EFF) asked what the Department’s plans were for schools in communities with gang violence and drug activity. Was any budget set aside for detection equipment for guns and knives? How much was being spent on safety and intervention in these schools?

Mr C Fry (DA) asked whether there was a budget for tutoring interventions,

Mr Walters said there were a few unplaced learners. The Department was on track with placements. There was still a struggle to place those that arrived late. A mixture of building materials was used in most schools. There was a budget or extra lessons in the curriculum.

A budget of R46 million was allocated for school safety. A policy decision needed to be made on whether schools would have metal detectors and other detection equipment. It was true that gang violence and drug use were increasing in schools and the Department was discussing ways to combat this. Parents also needed to play their part. 

Mr Salie Abrahams, Deputy Director-General: Education Planning, said the rapid school build programme encompassed a broad portfolio of building methods. A light steel structure was used at some schools. Expanding the facilities was a priority. An amount of R350 million has been allocated to the programme. The number of mobile schools has increased in the past few years. There were 42 mobile schools in the portfolio of 1 526 schools. 76 schools were built with inappropriate materials - this represented less than 8 percent of the portfolio and needed to be a priority as safety was an important factor. The details of these schools would be provided to the Committee.

Regarding school safety, the Minister said the Department worked closely with the area-based teams (ABTs)  in the 18 hotspot areas. There was random drug testing at schools and school holiday programmes in high-risk areas to prevent learners from joining the wrong crowds and getting into trouble. Other departments were involved in creating a safe environment for learners and they provided drug counselling and counselling on gang-related activities. One area where there had been traction was drill exercises. There was additional funding for deploying school resource officers (SROs) to schools.

The Minister said 91 learners were in the process of being placed. Ninety-nine percent of learners in grades one to grade eight were placed. In the rapid school building programme, R1.3 billion would be spent on new infrastructure assets. This was a 188 percent increase from the previous year and was part of the infrastructure budget of R2.9 billion. It was not true that these schools were being built with questionable materials.

The Chairperson said the Committee had visited some of the schools in the rapid build programme and was very pleased with the results.

Mr Sayed referred to the increase in educator posts. How would this affect the ratio of educators to learners? How much funding was allocated to psycho-social support? What would this funding be used for? Would social work graduates be sent to schools in need? Regarding scholar transport procurement, how much of the 20 percent of non-personnel expenditure went towards learner transport in the Cederberg area? Learners walked for long periods to get to school.

Mr D Plato (DA) asked what progress had been made with e-learning. He asked for an update on the foundation phase. Regarding parental support, what else could be done when parents were not involved with their children’s education? What were the reasons for this?

The Chairperson said the only grants that had increased were those for ECD, HIV, and the NSNP. What was the impact of the below inflation increases? Regarding the asset finance reserve, did the R1,2 billion go towards the rapid build programme. There was a 95 percent increase in provincial revenue fund tax receipts. What were the reasons for this? How many meals and learners would the national conditional grant for the food programme be catering for?  

Mr Walters said the ratios of educators to learners had not yet been determined. He asked Mr Sayed to provide the Department with information on learners having to walk long distances. There has been progress in the e-learning foundation phase. The Department had detected problems with parental support. Parents should go to school meetings and play a role in their children’s education.

Ms Berenice Daniels, Director: Specialised Education, said there were three tiers to psycho-social support. The first tier was early prevention at school level, the second was support at circuit level and the third was district-level support. There were programmes to capacitate teachers and learners to create a conducive environment. 128 support assistants would be deployed to schools. The Department of the Premier allocated social work interns to the first two tiers. The wellbeing of staff was prioritised. There were courses they could take to provide emotional support to learners.

Mr Leon Ely, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, said the budget for scholar transport was R492 million, which catered for inflation increases. The National Treasury decreased some of the grants due to fiscal constraints. Fuel and food prices had increased due to the drought and exchange rate, which impacted the NSNP. An amount of R61 million was received from the Provincial Treasury to supplement the grant. More than half a million learners were fed breakfast and lunch daily. This was about half the learners in the province. They were fed for 197 days.

Regarding e-learning, there were three components, the enabling environment, capacity building, and digital and online resources. On capacity building, pre-Covid, there were 4 000 instances of teacher participation online. In 2020 this jumped to 12 639 and in 2021, this jumped to 16 431. It had now stabilised at 8 355. The Department’s E-portal was one of the most vibrant online offerings in the country and usage had quadrupled. Streaming facilities were available and the best teachers were selected. There was also an effective telematics programme in partnership with  Stellenbosch University. There was streaming for grades 10,11 and 12 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional time was allocated for languages and maths. The national system had been persuaded to continue this model. The focus was strongly on teacher support and ensuring that learning and teacher support material (LTSM) was available to all foundation phase teachers. A phonetics approach had been introduced in the reading strategy and improvements had been made.

Regarding parental support, the Department was working to identify 200 schools to target 4 000 learners, 2 200 teachers and 28 000 parents in a programme to have parents play a greater role in their children's education. During the COVID period, an innovation was introduced mainly in the rural areas and in poor and vulnerable communities, where interns worked as a relay between the home, the school and the child. Children that were at risk were provided with these extra programmes. The interns monitored the child's progress and development.

The Minister said it was true that conditional grants had declined by 4.5 percent. The pressure was now on the Provincial Government and the Provincial Treasury to see what could be done. The province had to step in and allocate an additional R61 million for the nutrition programme. The PID grant decreased by 16.1 percent, so the province allocated an additional R67 million. The Department was leaning in where the national government had been starting to fail, particularly in areas of infrastructure, school feeding, and learners with profound intellectual disabilities.

Pages 181-190

Mr Sayed asked for an update on findings by the Special Investigating Unit. He referred to staff implicated in corruption in the learner transport grant involving R12 million. When was the Department made aware of this? How did governing body members get involved in the issue of learner transport? How much money was allocated to the school pop-ups programme?

The Chairperson referred to page 183 on the money for the Mass participation, Opportunity and access, Development and growth (MOD) programme. What was it specifically for? How many MOD tutors would this cater for? How many school research officers would be catered for? What would the maths, science and technology (MST) conditional grant be used for?

Mr Walters said he had reported to the Committee on the matter identified as corruption. It was not corruption but rather a technical matter. A report on the three people involved was sent to the Department of the Premier for recommendation. The recommendation was that the accounting officer takes action against one official and no further action against the other two. The school governing body matter dates back to 2007. It was now before the courts.

 Mr Haroon Mahomed, Deputy Director General: Curriculum and Assessment Management, said information on the MOD centres would be provided in writing. On the MST conditional grant, 56 schools were provided with ICT resources, equipment and consumables and for learners and teachers.

The Minister said that the budget for pop-ups was  R457 000. 114 pop-up sites would be activated. The school resource officers programme would be extended to nine schools and three ABTs per year. More information on this will be provided in writing.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked whether transport to the MOD centres was provided for learners. Was there improvement in employing SROs? Were the current SROs effective?

Mr Sayed asked what equipment there would be at pop-up centres. 

The Chairperson asked about the curriculum for life orientation. What changes were there?

Mr Walters said there was no transport for learners to the MOD centres as there was no budget for this. However, these centres had been spaced out for accessibility.

The Minister said the MOD centres were located in schools, and the services were spread to neighbouring schools. There had been significant reduction in incidents of crime and violence in the schools where the SROs were deployed. They added value and were successful. There would be an average of six people at pop-up sites, laptops and tablets would be available to capture applications and there would also be printed application forms.

Mr Mahomed said the life orientation curriculum made provision for career awareness and would involve working with other departments to make the programme transversal. The private sector had also been engaged to see if they could provide learners with knowledge and some experience while still at school.

Mr Christians asked if the Department received any pleas from parents of learners without access to MOD centres. Was anything done to assist these learners?

Mrf Walters said schools interested in the MOD centres should contact those in their vicinity and request support. It was easier to send MOD support to these schools. Schools were being encouraged to participate in athletics and the codes of rugby, soccer and netball would be pushed. 

Mr Plato referred to page 185 on increased access to technical and agricultural classes. Were there more learners that wanted to participate in these classes?

Mr Walters said that two years ago, there was an indicator about access to these technical and agricultural classes. However, this stuck at the pilot phase as there was no budget to equip schools for these classes. The work would be consolidated in 2023 and fully introduced in 2024 or 2025.

Pages 191-200

Mr Sayed referred to page 192, table 9.5 on pre-grade R issues. What were the reasons for the budget decrease? What was entailed in table 7 of the performance plan on page 38? What was the latest on improving the skills of grade R practitioners? On page 197, what were the reasons for the decrease in the budget for special projects? How much of the budget would go towards tutoring initiatives?

Mr Fry welcomed the infrastructure budget increase. 

Mr Christians referred to the ECD centres. The programme was working very well at the ones in Bo-Kaap and Cape Town. The centres that did not need money might need other support. Was the Department engaging with them? 

The Chairperson said the Committee was told during an oversight visit that the Bo-Kaap centre wanted assistance with extra training. Regarding the EPWP grants, how many would be trained? What types of EPWP work would be provided with the funding? How many schools and classrooms would be built this year? Referring to loadshedding responses on page 195,  he asked how the LED lighting would be implemented and how many schools would be in this programme.

Mr Abrahams said that infrastructure was a multi-year programme and 842 classrooms had been set as the productive output for the budget allocation. There would be talks on creating facilities to support admissions and placement. There would also be discussions on adding to the number of schools for those with autism and other learning disabilities. More information on this would be given in writing to the Committee. The Department had been proactive with an energy efficiency programme in schools and had saved up to 50 percent. A subset of schools would get PV installations. The aim was to start with 25 schools and move up to 100, depending on the budget.

A WCED official said the budget for grade R had not been decreased, but money had been shifted to another directorate. On the EPWP learnerships, there were 715 level 4 learnerships. There were 31 support programme assistants and 200 ECD assistants. There were rounds of information gathering to determine how to improve the qualification pathway for ECD practitioners. The Department provided subsidies for National Curriculum Framework (NCF) training at TVET colleges.

The Minister said that the decrease in programme 5 for ECD resulted from shifting staff compositions and admin costs between programmes. 

Mr Mahomed said there were tutors in the MOD centres.

Mr Sayed asked about training and capacity building for ECD centres. Was there a provision in the budget to help ECDs in poor communities comply with standards? Had the Department identified ECD organisations that it could work with?

Mr Plato referred to the rapid build programme. What had been done so far was very impressive. Quality should never be compromised. Referring to page 196 on learner performance for grade 12, what made the Department state that there had been an improvement in this?

The Chairperson referred to page 197 on the HIV/AIDS life skill education conditional grant. Did it allow the provinces to also deal with education on TB?

Mr Walters said that in assessing the performance of grade 12 learners, the factors taken into account included maths and science passes, distinctions and so on. This was also compared to the national level.

Mr Ely said that the HIV/AIDS grant catered for TB as well.

Pages 201-216

Mr Fry referred to page 215 on table A, 3.6. What was the increase in Kannaland for?

Mr Sayed referred to page 202, annexure A2. What were the reasons for the increase in catering consultants and professional services?

Mr Christians referred to the payments on infrastructure. What if there was a sudden spike in learners in certain areas? Did the programme change to accommodate these learners?

Mr Abrahams said that in infrastructure planning, there was an element of responding to immediate needs and long term planning that factored in demand patterns. The budget allocation had an element for rapid responses to overcrowding. There was a mechanism for emergency responses.

Ms Erna Veldman, Chief Director: Financial Management, said on the Kannaland matter that the table presented an estimation of spending. This was based on expenditure trends.

Questions from the public

Members of the public were given an opportunity to participate.

A representative of the Centre for Early Childhood Development asked whether there were any provisions to pay the remaining ECD workers stimulus relief funds and, if so, how much?

Ms Nosipho Daniels, from Malihambe Women Outreach, asked if there was a way of knowing how many learners were doing their last year in primary school in order to know how many would be entering high school. Was the Department ready to accommodate these learners?

Questions from other members of the public concerned unplaced learners and lengthy online registration processes. Could there be registration centres? Schools in poor communities needed facilities and equipment to engage in sporting activities. Some schools in Khayelitsha did not have sports fields. Agricultural classes had succeeded at Khayelitsha schools that offered them. What would be done about teacher safety? MOD centres might not be successful because they were not monitored. Schools needed to introduce activities to make them more involved and interested. There needed to be career motivation.

Other questions concerned the qualifications of ECD practitioners and training and incentives for educators to add to their qualifications. There was a complaint that acting principals did not help struggling students to get to matric because a poor matric pass rate might hold them back from permanent appointment.

Mr Walters said that, in the past four days, 40 694 individual learners with guardians and parents had successfully placed applications on the online system. The total number was 137 000. There were 12 300 calls and of these 8 494 were resolved, 1 400 remained unresolved and 2 756 were being processed. The technical issues involved password changes. The procedural officer would offer printed copies of the registration.

It was very wrong for acting principals not to try to improve passes in all grades. Schools tended to do far worse with acting principals. The issue of monitoring MOD centres would be raised.

On sports fields, Mr Ely said that norms and standards were set for schools for various purposes such as maintenance of school property, municipal services and so on. In allocations to schools, 25 percent was for school maintenance, including field maintenance. The schools and the governing bodies needed to take ownership.

Safety in schools was a priority and each school had a safety committee. There was an agreement with the SAPS to visit schools. There were school resources officers at schools to help maintain law and order. There was targeted hardening, including alarm systems, electrified gates, camera systems, etc.

School gardens were used to supplement the NSNP programmes and to interest learners in this field. If learners are interested in agricultural classes, the schools should contact the district office and request approval for an additional subject. In Khayelitsha, the metro south district arranged an annual expo for learners and buses were sent to schools to take them to these expos.

Members of the public said that teachers were being robbed inside school gates despite there being cameras. Teachers were being targeted. Other methods might need to be implemented. Many slow learners and those with special needs were not catered for in schools. What could be done about this?

Many learners in Kraaifontein were not in school. There was land for education infrastructure. There were always issues of overcrowding in Kraaifontein. Committee Members needed to visit this community to see what was going on.

Ms Colleen Titus, an activist for various NPOs, asked what the allocation was for non-formal education. She said there were many issues with Heathfield High School. The younger, professional principal was replaced with an older one and there was chaos. The powers of the school governing board (SGB) in this high school were limited.

Mr Walters said the Department had been dealing with backlogs in appointing principals for the past few years. A lot of the delays were in the SGB processes. He asked for the names of the learners not in school in Kraaifontein. The Heathfield High matter was in arbitration and would not be discussed at the moment. There was a principal there now, the school was stable and efforts were directed at tutoring learners. In the skills area, the Department worked with the National Department of Higher Education and Training on skills training for over-age learners. Learners that had left the system could go to certain centres for training. Funding was available for this and stipends were provided.

On non-formal training, Mr Mahomed said the SETA  system offered learnerships and could assist with funding for NGOs. For learners who struggled academically, there were more technical, vocational subjects. Schools in Khayelitsha already offered this. The contact details would be provided.

Ms Titus said that there were training centres in Athlone for women who did the work of men, such as plumbing. Funding was needed for these centres. More centres were needed to prevent gangsterism, violence, teenage pregnancy and so on. Since these centres were not SETA accredited, this might hold back funding.

The Chairperson said there were energy, electricity and industrial SETAs in the Saldanha industrial development zone (IDZ).

Mr Walters answered a question about how social workers at schools deal with crime, violence and drugs. He said there was a social worker at Langa High School. A social worker was appointed for every 20 schools in a circuit. There were also learning support teachers in the schools. Any school could access the circuit social worker.

The Department said that psycho-social support interns were placed at high-risk schools. Every school had to have a school-based support team that met regularly.

Committee Report: Budget Vote 5

The Committee supported the Additional Adjustments Appropriation  Bill and the Appropriation Bill for Vote 5: Education in the schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill.

The ANC recorded a minority view that it did not support the Bills.

The meeting was adjourned.


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