Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has on Tuesday announced that R8 billion will be set aside for no fee schools in the country, saying this will ensure that no child is disadvantaged because of their economic situation.
Presenting her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Minister Motshekga said her department’s programme was guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) which states that education is a means to building an inclusive society and providing opportunities for South Africans to realise their full potential.
“We will continue to promote universal access to education by ensuring that all children between ages 7 and 15 are in school.
“We will increase the number of Grade 12 learners who can gain entrance to university, moving incrementally from 172 000 in 2013 to 250 000 in 2019, and work to improve the quality and quantity of passes,” the minister said.
With regard to inappropriate school structures, Minister Motshekga said her department will continue to work towards eradicating mud schools and other inappropriate structures particularly in the Eastern Cape, and to provide the necessary resources needed for proper schooling to take place.
“Our own internal assessments and international benchmarking assessments confirm that whilst progress has been made on access, equity, and redress, the emphasis in this administration will be on attaining quality efficiently,” she said.
She said in the next five years her department will make more aggressive, radical changes and appropriate interventions to turn the education system around.
“We have moved boldly, therefore, to reconfigure the Basic Education Department internally for an even better performance,” she said.
Minister Motshekga said her department will, in line with heightening accountability and enhancing service delivery, invoke Sections 3 and 8 of the National Education Policy Act of 1996 to hold those districts and provinces that are not performing to account.
“The time has come to place responsibility and accountability where it belongs. We will track learner performance more closely, in order to ensure that our interventions are working and that we are decreasing the drop-out rate and increasing retention levels in our schools,” she said.
The Council of Education Ministers held its first meeting a week ago where all provincial MECs agreed that the time for radical transformation has come. The meeting will be followed by an Education Lekgotla where provinces will align plans to improve quality and efficiency in the sector.
The meeting, according to Minister Motshekga, will be held in the first week of August.
Over nine million learners in more than 21 000 quintile 1 – 3 primary and secondary schools have benefitted from the school nutrition programme since June this year. The increase is attributed to the successful extension of the programme to public secondary schools.
The conditional grant for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) has been increased by R288.8 million in 2014/15 to R5.462 billion.
According to Motshekga, the amount will reach R5.704 billion in 2015/16.
“Although the department has made strides to meet the basic right to nutrition to millions of learners in schools, it has become necessary to consider a national de-worming programme linked to the NSNP, to maximise the health and cognitive benefits of school meals,” she said.
Meanwhile, the overall budget for the department is R19 680 billion. This is an increase of R2 088 billion from last year’s R17 592 billion.
Minister Motshekga said the allocation confirmed government’s commitment to education.
“The budget allocation to provincial education departments is R186 147 billion. It will exceed R200 billion in 2015/16,” Motshekga said.
Umalusi has been allocated R107. 4 million in 2014/15 and will reach R112.7 million in 2015/16 to cover its expanded mandate.
The National Education Evaluation Development Unit continues to do important work for the department and that for 2014/15, it has been allocated R14.2 million, said the minister.
Kha Ri Gude received R634.9 million and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has been allocated R62.2 million.
“This mass literacy campaign has impacted the lives of millions of our people,” the minister said.
With regard to safety in schools, Minister Motshekga said her department will continue to enhance learner safety and well- being by fighting drugs and substance abuse as well as youth criminality in schools and in communities in general. – SAnews.gov.za
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