Madam speaker; the DA has read the budget book and critically analyzed the allocations. Supporting this budget is the same as supporting skewed priorities. I’ll tell you why.
Looking at the schools of specialization, there are much needed facilities that will create great opportunities not only for our province but the whole country.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly supports the establishment and the existence of the schools of specialization but the challenge is that they are not accessible to all our people.
Priority number 4 of the department’s list of priorities is to “expand and enhance schools of specialization”, but surprisingly, or maybe not, in this budget allocation, the department allocated a zero amount for this priority. There’s no budget allocated to this priority over the next two financial years. How then will this programme be expanded, as outlined by the Premier during his State of the Province Address?
This budget is not expanding choices, as it will be difficult for a child from Hamanskraal to be transported daily to attend a school of aviation based in Ekurhuleni.
It seems like we are perpetuating skewed spatial planning. If this department was serious about expanding schools of specialization the budget would have included the establishment of these schools across the province particularly closers to industrial plants and aviation schools closer to small airports such as Lanseria and Wonderboom airports.
While these schools will be located closer to industries of specialization, it means that there must be budget allocated for boarding facilities or transport to ensure that all our learners have access to these schools.
Madam Speaker, for example a child from Hammanskraal who is an orphan in foster care, who wants to attend the BMW school of specialization in Soshanguve, but does not have money to travel or rent a facility, how do they benefit when their circumstances are outside their control?
Quality basic education must be accessible to all but this budget does not consider that.
It is ironic that the department’s priority number 14 which is “reposition principals and educator development and support” yet there is no money allocated to the School Management Teams over the next two financial years. The School Management Team needs to be trained on how to use technology in schools and classrooms to improve learning and teaching.
Speaking of the use of technology, Madam Speaker , I visited Selang Primary School in Leboneng, Hammanskraal on Wednesday, 24 July 2019. It broke my heart to see that a computer lab is closed because there is no support from the department. The specialized classrooms must be a priority but this budget isn’t talking to this need.
How do you then say on paper that one of your priorities is educator development and support, yet there is no money allocated to drive this very priority?
In addition , Selang Primary School does not have a proper kitchen and the department is failing to provide proper support to the school’s nutrition programme.
While noting the nutrition programme budget, there is no emphasis on providing a balanced diet and healthy meals to learners. Did you notice the food given to learners, when we were at Simunye Secondary school in Bekkersdal last week Tuesday? – it was clear that we need proper training for food handlers to prepare balanced meals.
There is a huge need to ensure that kitchen facilities are in good condition. They must be inspected regularly and health inspectors must visit schools to ensure quality food is prepared for learners.
Madam speaker, the MEC has been given a new mandate to take care of youth development. We are told that the department is now called the Department of Education and Youth Development yet this budget fails to address issues that directly affect our youth who are out of school. Again it’s not clear whether the role is to coordinate without a budget or there will be a budget during the adjustment process.
Strategic goal 5 “To address the needs of Gauteng Youth through development programs and increasing youth employability”, and the priorities under this strategic goal are, ‘18: to develop a master skills programme aligned to skills required by the fourth industrial revolution, 19: continue with the programmes targeting poor and critical skills, 20: promote young writers and publications for use in schools.
Youth goes beyond learners and there are many of them who are looking for opportunities but they are not winning. There is no specific budget set aside to deal with youth development. As I said, it may require an adjustment and realignment of the budget.
How do you then say you have strategic goals that speak to youth development with clearly articulated priorities yet there is no money allocated to address these issues?
Madam speaker, the DA does not support this budget primarily because it is not aligned to the priorities after the May General Elections.
The Democratic Alliance believes that retraining and empowering our teachers with skills should remain a major priority. The 4th Industrial Revolution requires teachers who are well prepared to ensure that they are part of the change.
The department must make computer literacy compulsory to afford learners opportunities to adjust to these new changes. They must be given opportunities to adapt to ensure that they can lead innovation in the sector.
The DA believes in building one SA for all, where all can have access to quality education regardless of their geographic circumstances. We advocate for total learner, educator and SGB empowerment and support through clearly articulated policy documents on Education.