19 July 2019
SADTU in KwaZulu Natal welcomes the 2019/2020 budget speech for the Education department delivered by the MEC, Comrade Kwazi Mshengu. The MEC’s maiden budget speech is well-balanced and to a larger extent covered the important programmes of the Department comprehensively. It gives hope for intellectual migration towards excellence provided the funding of all programmes shall not be compromised unduly so.
We fully agree with the MEC that this biggest education department in the country remains severely underfunded relative to the challenges and its geographical spread and rurality. Highly urbanised provinces like the Western Cape and Gauteng are better placed to stretch their purses further than KwaZulu Natal can do.
Be as it may, the meagre resources at the disposal of the department should be disbursed more prudently. The department has, overtime recklessly spent millions to fund unnecessary court cases for noncompliance with their own laws and policies. The recent case brought against the department by Mpungose Tribal authority and Nkungumathe community which was lost with cost is a living testimony of such recklessness. It is unthinkable that the people had to seek protection in the courts to have access to education which is a right.
SADTU believes that a government department that is guided by democratic principles in its operations must agree to our call that a session be convened where as a major stakeholder we pin point where we think the department is wasting money so that funds can be redirected correctly for example the department must declare how much it has used on litigations and how much the department has utilized in its outsourcing of disciplinary cases.
We welcome the proposal of the MEC as he appealed to all the members of the Legislature to adopt a school and this we believe should be a well-structured intervention for which each of the Members should account to the Legislature.
ON NORMS AND STANDARDS
Norms and standards allocations are equally a concern given that per learner allocation remain far below the national allocation. Whereas financial prudence and reprioritisation is welcome under these harsh economic conditions, it defeats the department’s ambitions to preferentially fund the rural and township schools if allocation cuts are not considered on the basis of equity too. Quintile 3 and 4 schools are underfunded by about 25.5% of their national allocation compared to quintile 1 – 3 which are underfunded by about 31.5%. If the funding cut would also be about 25,5% they would be receiving around R1050. This is more of contemporary marginalisation of schools in poorer communities reminiscent of historical marginalisation under the conditions of the apartheid period.
ON SCHOOL SAFETY
The MEC has shown political will to decisively confront issues of safety in all schools and SADTU is pleased with this demonstrated commitment but we remain unconvinced that the security guards should be appointed through the government EPWP scheme. Our resolve is for this obviously critical functional area which deserves more funding to have a dedicated and contented workforce fully employed by the department. They should also be subjected to rigorous capacity building, training and performance management with full worker benefits as enjoyed by all government servants because of the risk associated with their job.
FOCUS SCHOOLS AND LA MERCY MATHS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
We welcome the dedicated funding for all focus schools so that as a developing country, KwaZulu Natal can also contribute to the skills revolution necessary to aid human capacity development congruent with the demands of our economy. This programme should in future encompass recapitalisation of Technical high schools and boarding schools in the province. SADTU was however dismayed to learn for the first time that the department has abandoned its original and noble plan as a Maths and Science province, to build La Mercy Academy as a fully functional school for these critical subjects in the main. This represents shattered opportunities for the learners of the province to follow their passions of studying Maths, Science and Technology in a state of the art institution. Understanding the rumours about ballooning of budget for La Mercy project SADTU calls on the department to declare openly how much was spent and whether it was justified. We do heartily welcome focus on specialised schools to mitigate threats that militate against inclusivity in education delivery.
TRANSFORMATION OF THE SCHOOLING SYSTEM
We have noted the desires of the MEC to improve teaching and learning in many ways in his budget allocations. The typology of our schools remain incoherent and migration of people because of rapid urbanisation coupled with farms dwellings demands that such an exercise be carried but judiciously. The many schools to be affected as revealed by the MEC for Finance, Mr Ravi Pillay, demand proper and timeous planning to avoid unintended consequences normally associated with this exercise. SADTU would have appreciated proper budgeting for this important exercise which has collapsed schooling and displaced both learners and workers in some Districts. The last budget of R50m was redirected to other programmes effectively collapsing the exercise thus rendering it a non-core issue.
ON SANITARY TOWELS AND NUTRITION PROGRAMMES
Whilst SADTU appreciates the budget for the distribution of sanitary towels SADTU demands the investigation report on previous years' procurement and distribution. SADTU shall engage the HOD, Dr E.V. Nzama, on the proper procurement and distribution of sanitary towels to needy learners to avoid repetition of the shameful abuse and commercialisation of this social programme intended to restore the dignity of our girl kids. This should go hand in hand with the nutrition programme which demands monitoring in order for our learners to benefit maximally from the programme.
FILLING OF POSTS
We welcome the commitment for the filling of senior management posts of the Deputy Directors General advertised a long time ago and advertisement of all other funded posts. No office or institution can function optimally with a skeleton workforce whose jobs get invariably expanded as a consequence.
SADTU also wishes to convey her deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the security guards who were brutality murdered while serving the nation at Ukusa Secondary School in Hammarsdale. The heartless murderers gained access to the school by jumping over the fence and brutally took the lives of two of the three workers leaving the third with serious injuries. In the same vein, we are disturbed by the murder of a community member within the premises of the neighbouring Thandaza Secondary school in the presence of learners. We salute educators in this school who acted truly in loco parentis and ensured that the learners remained safe when this gruesome murder by over seven assailants was mercilessly carried out in the environs of the school.
We call on our communities to jealously guard their institutions for the benefit of the learners and the nation. We are appealing to the hearts of those who stay with murderers, who feed them, who share a house or bed with them, to find it morally obligatory for them to report such callous beings to the police.
We call on all community members to be the “Fans of Schools” and attach themselves emotionally to schools and defend the known sanctity of the schools.
ISSUED BY THE SECRETARIAT ON BEHALF OF THE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE