Gauteng Department of Education underspends by R1.3 billion in the 2019/20 financial year

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with concern that the Gauteng Department of Education had underspent their budget by R1.3 billion in the 2019/20 financial year.

This information was revealed in the department’s 2019/20 annual report, indicating that the department had underspent across all its programmes.

Failure to spend R1 389 320 of the allocated budget has a huge impact on department’s performance, with the following targets not achieved:

Vacant posts at schools were not filled which will result in overcrowding of learners in classrooms;
· School furniture was not bought;

· Bursaries for teachers were not settled;

· Incomplete kitchens and gas installations, making it difficult to provide nutrition for learners;

· Property lease contracts were not concluded, resulting in unnecessary extensions;

· Information Communication Technology (ICT) projects were delayed and

· Development projects such as staff training were not rolled out.

The department had failed to spend its allocated budget which was approved before the inception of the national lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The DA is further worried that this current financial year will result in higher under expenditure due to schooling disruptions because of Covid-19.

The DA will therefore engage with the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to reprioritise the department’s expenditure plans to ensure proper budget allocation, focusing on school infrastructure in terms of building more schools and classrooms, launching more ICT projects, and ensure adequate teacher development. This will capacitate the department to meet the new learning and teaching demands under the difficult conditions of the pandemic.

The DA believes that the department has no room to underspend on its allocated budget considering the high demand to improve the quality of education and school infrastructure in Gauteng.