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Officials will face action – MEC

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“Consequence management will also be stepped up to improve governance and compliance with laws and regulations.”

MEC for Education, Mac Jack. Picture: Supplied

THE MEC for Education, Mac Jack, said disciplinary steps would be taken against officials in his department who incurred unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

He delivered his budget speech yesterday while the department received a qualified audit opinion for the 2018/19 financial year.

He said the department would work tirelessly to address all the shortcomings that have led to the current year’s regression in the audit outcomes.

“The department will look at the scope and manner in which infrastructure implementing agents manage projects on behalf of the department. There will also be enhanced strengthening of the internal controls within the department to ensure improved financial reporting.

“Consequence management will also be stepped up to improve governance and compliance with laws and regulations.”

Jack stated that with the Province achieving a 73,3 percent pass rate in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations last year, they wanted to ensure that no school in the Province achieved less than 75 percent in their matric results as from 2019 onwards.

“Guardians who are departmental officials and Members of the Executive Council have been assigned to 14 underperforming schools with a pass rate below 50 percent to provide support and motivation. The purpose of visits to underperforming schools is not to evaluate or grade them. Reports will be submitted for information purposes and to facilitate more effective support to teaching and learning.”

He stated that 546 schools would receive a total allocation of R47,4 million for the 2019/20 financial year.

“Schools are therefore responsible for the procurement of their own material.”

He added that schools continually failed to retrieve textbooks from pupils.

“Ensuring that this valuable resource is looked after cannot be the responsibility of the Department of Education alone. All role players are encouraged to be accountable for textbooks by retaining and returning them in a good condition.”

Jack indicated that the number of schools that are offering an African language as a subject has increased from 101 in 2018 to 192 in 2019.

“All these schools are implementing an African language at second additional language level in Grade 1. Eighty six out of the 192 schools are also implementing it in Grade 2 and 20 in Grade 3. In order to promote social cohesion and multilingualism, we shall continue to intensify our advocacy measures through engaging parents/guardians, schools and school governing bodies to ensure an increase in the number of pupils.”

He said that in preparation for the admission of pupils for the 2020 school year, applications had to be received and captured by the school on the department’s electronic admissions system.

“Letters, messages and emails will be sent to parents by the school to inform them if their applications were successful.

“As from next year we will also be introducing an online admission system. For the past two years we have been processing the admissions electronically to pilot the system.”

Jack added that dedicated centres in each district would be implemented to assist parents to apply online, especially those who did not have access to the internet.

“In return, the online admission system will further assist the department to speed up the placement of pupils.”

He stated that R219 million would be allocated to 408 no-fee schools for the 2018/19 financial year.

Jack pointed out that the increase in no-fee schools and fee exemptions was indicative of the rising poverty level in the Northern Cape.

“For the 2019/20 financial year, an amount of R12 million was allocated for approximately
27 000 pupils who will be conditionally, partially or fully exempted from the payment of school fees.”

He added that, through a twinning agreement with the Namibian/Kharas region, five students from the Northern Cape would be trained as Nama educators at the University of Namibia in 2020.

Jack stated that the department would, in collaboration with the National Department of Basic Education and the former Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services (DTPS), facilitate the provision of tablets and computers to all schools in the Province.

“The department provides a monthly data bundle to all schools for administration purposes. However, this is not sufficient as there is growing need for schools to stay connected due to the demand with the advent of the 4th industrial revolution.”

He indicated that the department would pilot the electronic deployment of question papers and the writing of online examinations in the lower grades.

“This will be followed by e-marking.”

He added that the department had invested in an off-line resource prudent to provide internet facilities in far flung rural areas.

“In 2020 we will introduce coding as a subject in the foundation phase. Teachers will be trained in the foundation phase to implement this computer-related programme.”

Jack believed that multi-purpose interactive learning laboratories would boost productivity and learning through virtual disciplines such as 3D-modeling, simulations, reality and interactive charts.

He added that the department would pay special attention to under-performing and chronic under-performing schools to increase the matric pass rate to 80 percent this year.

Independent schools would receive subsidies amounting to R10 million where 36 were registered in the Northern Cape.

“These schools ease the burden of overcrowding in some of our public schools.”

Jack stated that R174 million would be used for pupils with special needs.

“We have admitted 2 009 pupils in special schools and 476 pupils with special needs in mainstream schools.”

He said the department would provide adequate electricity to nine schools, adequate water to seven schools, while 14 schools will receive upgrades and additional sanitation.

“The department aims to complete an additional 75 classrooms and a total of six early childhood development facilities.”

Jack indicated that 20 percent of the funds allocated from the education infrastructure grant would be directed to the maintenance and repair of 36 schools in the Province.

He said the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations would commence on October 23 with English Paper 1 and conclude on November 28.

He added that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, would release the 2019 NSC results on January 7 while Provinces would release the results on January 8.

Jack stated that 24 659 pupils were being provided with transport if they stayed further than five kilometres from school.

“The term of all pupil transport contracts ends in December 2019. The process to advertising the tender for new contracts for 2020 is underway. We expect the first tender in Namakwa to be advertised by the end of August.”

He added that, with unacceptably high levels of violence, gangsterism, bullying, gender-based violence and alcohol and drug abuse being experienced in schools, the department will host a Provincial school safety summit on September 20 in Kimberley.

“It requires a collective responsibility to create a conducive environment for quality public education.”

Jack indicated that 159 schools were trained with regards to the protocol on the management of sexual abuse and harassment in schools.

“We will continue to roll out this training to all schools in the Province. Training with regards to the protocol on dealing with corporal punishment in schools was extended to 159 schools, and emergency readiness procedures were established in 19 farm schools, and 557 schools are linked to 97 police stations.”

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Total budget: R6,9 billion

Administration: R695 million

Infrastructure development: R647 million

School nutrition: R210 million

Early Childhood Development: R110 million

Public Ordinary Schools Education: R5.1 billion

Examinations and education: R148 million