THE 2018/2019 DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION (DBE) BUDGET SPEECH – 9 MAY 2018
NAPTOSA is of the view that the 2018-19 Department of Basic Education’s budget speech is a missed opportunity for South Africa to fulfil its commitment to realise government’s mandate to make access, redress, equality, efficiency, inclusivity and quality educational opportunities a reality. NAPTOSA president questioned if indeed government and the DBE is truly committed to realising UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 in particular.
Those who cannot speak for themselves, the children and teachers of South Africa, are paying the price of a government that allowed state looting under its watch. Mr Ntantala lamented the fact that the burden will once again fall on the teacher to do more with less.
NAPTOSA acknowledges that tough fiscal trade-offs needed to be made to strengthen the economy, but cuts in education is short-sighted. Children and teachers are subjected to deplorable conditions of learning and teaching. Have we forgotten that it was grade R learners who have paid with their lives, because of infrastructure deficiencies? “This budget trade-off will only result in the delivery of poor quality service by the department to our educators”, said Mr Ntantala. “When the sun was still shining on the department and education enjoyed substantive budget allocations, the department failed to seize the opportunity and address problems faced by the education system of our country”.
NAPTOSA has on numerous occasions alluded to challenges in the current education system and called on the DBE to address the fundamental problems in the foundation phase. “But instead our cries fell on deaf ears and monies have been spent on intervention programmes on learners who are exiting the system”, said Mr Ntantala.
Whilst NAPTOSA finds the budget cuts deplorable, we nevertheless believe that the impact can, to some extent, be alleviated by more efficient utilisation of funds. There is just too much wasteful expenditure in the education system. Proper, more robust, oversight over education expenditure is required.
“It might be true and commendable that the ISIDI project has delivered state of the art facilities for learning and teaching and that the department is on track to deliver its objective of equality, but NAPTOSA believes more should be done to address the inequality that still persist in education”, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA is of the view that the DBE should have prioritised proper sanitation at the dawn of the democratic dispensation. ‘The department’s failure to provide schools with safe ablution facilities has robbed learners and teachers of their basic human dignity’, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA school principals know first-hand what the implications of the budget cuts will entail. Whilst the hope to at least receive sufficient funds to pay the water and electricity in their schools , they are under no illusion that the situation with regard to much needed LTSM, that is already of poor quality and at best insufficient, will deteriorate even further, said Mr Ntantala.
However, NAPTOSA wishes to commend the department on the 5.8% increase for the school nutrition programme. NAPTOSA remains concerned about the 9.3 million children who depend on this feeding programme during school holidays. This is yet to be addressed. “Teachers at schools experience first-hand how the lack of proper nutrition affects the cognitive ability when these children, who are depend on this scheme, return to school, after holidays”, said Mr Ntantala.
The allocation of the R18.5 million for learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities and the 5.6 % increase for the Funza Lushaka bursary programme is welcomed. NAPTOSA cannot overemphasise how much our country urgently needs younger teachers to enter the sector.
NAPTOSA is eager to see how the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) will be rolled out. This is indeed a positive move in addressing challenges faced by early learning and foundation phase education.
Furthermore, it is hoped that the department’s plan to review the progression and promotion policies with the regard to the lower grades does not include the lowering of pass requirements, said Mr Ntantala. NAPTOSA hopes that we look at how we assess these grades and align our practice with international education systems that show growth in the foundation phase.
NAPTOSA is cautious about the department's intention to provide supportive capacity for Early Childhood Development programmes, whilst they have failed to provide teachers in the basic education sector with assistant teachers, to ease the burden of administrative duties, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA welcomes the department’s intentions and plans to provide teacher development in order to meet the demands of the fourth industrial revolution. However, NAPTOSA wishes to raise concerns regarding the way in which the department releases funds earmarked for the Teacher Union Collaboration. Unions have been subjected to unreasonable time frames to deliver teacher professional development. If the department and its officials are serious about teacher development, then it is imperative that the department releases these funds earlier for unions to fulfil their mandate effectively, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA laments that no allocation was made to ensure the safety of learners and teachers in schools. “Is the minister not aware that schools have become soft targets for thuggery? If schools are not safe, how do you expect teaching and learning to improve? asked Mr Ntantala.
In conclusion, NAPTOSA welcomes the three-stream educational model pathway as it will see more learners afforded the opportunity to be educated. NAPTOSA is hopeful that this will reduce learner drop-out rate and the need for intervention when learners are ready to exit the system.
End of Statement
Enquiries: Mr Nkosipendule Ntantala (President) – 072 198 0599
Mr Basil Manuel (Executive Director) - 079 508 6228