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ANC accuses the Western Cape Education Department of underspending its budget

Learners are seen waiting next to a road for their transport to collect them. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Learners are seen waiting next to a road for their transport to collect them. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 14, 2021

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Cape Town - Opposition parties accused the provincial education department of underspending and not delivering on its mandate by surrendering monies to the revenue fund.

parties accused the provincial education department of underspending and not delivering on its mandate by surrendering monies to the revenue fund.

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During the debate on the budget vote for the department, ANC provincial education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said that the department had surrendered R340 million to the revenue fund in the face of overcrowded classrooms and the crisis of unplaced learners.

He said in the previous financial year the department failed to spend over R500m, and as the bulk of it was uncommitted it was therefore returned to the provincial treasury.

“Over the past two financial years, the department has failed to spend over R891m, yet next year when learners are not placed, the MEC will blame the national government, or she will blame lack of funding.”

Delivering her speech on the vote, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer blamed the department’s underspend in the last financial year on poor contractor performance, and delays in the construction industry as a result of the pandemic.

She said the department had not lost any infrastructure funding, as claimed, but that it had reprioritised the funding by reallocating R500m from preventive maintenance to capital projects for new schools and re-purposing facilities over two years.

Meanwhile, Schäfer said to protect school property in high-risk areas, the department would be providing holiday security to 477 schools from when they close this week until reopening in January.

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“At the start of every academic year, we must count the costs of the wanton theft and destruction of school property during the holiday period.”

She said 59 incidents were reported by schools for the December/January holiday last year and there wasn’t sufficient budget to repair ageing infrastructure, especially that which was deliberately damaged by criminals.

“But we ask this of our school communities: please, keep a close eye on your local school this festive season. If you see anything suspicious, please report it to the police or the safe schools hotline immediately.

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“Our schools have enough to worry about already. We must do everything we can to avoid adding to this burden,” Schäfer said.

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Cape Argus

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