Provincial departments of education have in recently outlined their plans and what they will be prioritising in this financial year through budget vote speeches.
This week, Inside Education brings you some of the highlights that came out of the budget votes by MECs of education.
Part one looks at the Eastern Cape and the North West provinces.
The province received a budget allocation of R35.076 billion for the 2021/22 financial year.
In his budget speech MEC Fundile Gade outlined the priorities of his department in this financial year including improving literacy and numeracy skills at foundation phase.
Gade said part of this programme will be to provide reading plans to learners in grades R and three. He said the department would also make available guidelines on how parents can assist children to read for meaning.
“This Reading Academy teacher training is an online course where the department will be able to reach out and train many teachers at a time. The Moodle platform has already been set and is ready to roll out the training,” said Gade.
Adding that the Foundation Phase teachers will be trained on the methodologies of teaching reading in 2021.
The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces that has major infrastructure backlogs.
READ: DBE Budget vote debate: Eastern Cape Education MEC says corruption by officials is rife in his province
Gade said there were 228 projects in various stages of construction. Of the 228 projects, five major school projects are scheduled for completion in the current financial year. They include a hostel for a special needs school at a cost of R199-million.
He also said that 69 schools would receive sanitation infrastructure support and that the department had budgeted R20-million for sanitation in this financial year.
Again on infrastructure, Gade said R40-million had been set aside for the rehabilitation, renovation and refurbishments of special schools.
The other priority for the department is the establishment of special schools in all districts. In this financial year six special schools are set to be opened including an Autism school in Buffalo City Metro.
In her presentation of the R32.568 billion for the 2021/22 financial year, MEC Poppy Boshielo said one of the things her province will prioritise is e-learning.
She said this will be prioritised because when schools were closed during hard lockdown and while some learners continued to study online, most learners in Limpopo could not continue with online lessons.
“In order to address this, the department will be rolling out its e- learning strategy,” said Boshielo.
Boshielo said premier Stanley Mathabatha allocated the department funding of R100 million to start with the rolling out of e-learning. She said the department also made available R128 million for the project.
The total budget for the e-learning programme would be R 228 million. Adding that the department will also provide tablets for learners and laptops to educators.
“Given the available budget, the department will be implementing e-learning in two grades, grade 1 and grade 8.
“In Grade 1, there are 142 123 learners in the province while in Grade 8 there are 125 645 learners.
“To provide tablets for the Grade 1 learners, it will cost R 355 million and R 314 million for the Grade 8 learners,” said Boshielo.
The MEC said the department would stagger the provision of tablets and that the programme will start at no-fee schools.
Boshielo said technical schools in the province will partner with mining companies in order to prepare learners with relevant skills needed in the province. A province where mining is one of the major economic activities.
“An example of such collaboration was launched in Mogalakwena, Phaladingoe Technical School between the department and Anglo-American Platinum, where learners are studying light and heavy electrical engineering courses.
“These learners are taught from time to time by operations managers from the mine. The equipment and machines that they use have been donated by Anglo Platinum Mine. What is pleasing is that during the weekends, learners make money by fixing electrical appliances like irons, hot plates and kettles in the village. We call on all other mining houses to also come on board to assist the department as we build up this capacity that they need to remain globally competitive while utilising local labour and skills,” she said.
The department has also set aside R34 million for the roll out of the sanitary dignity program and it will be used to provide about 2.3 million packs to 190 000 girl children.