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Fears increase in Western Cape education budget not being used to address inequality in schools

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer. File picture: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer. File picture: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 1, 2022

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Cape Town - Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has hailed an increase in her department’s budget as being significant enough to make “a real difference”, but the opposition fears the R2.2 billion increase will not be used to address inequality in the province’s schools.

Schäfer told the legislature that the department’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year was R28 billion, which was R2.2bn more than it received last year

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“I am very happy to be able to report that this year we have been allocated additional funding to help us come up for a bit of air while we deal with the extreme pressures our department faces,” she said.

Schäfer said the extra funding would enable the department to breathe a very small, temporary sigh of relief.

“Considering the backlogs we face, and the increasing demands, it is clear why it is needed. And while we are very pleased with it, we must not expect that this will solve all the issues we face.”

Provincial ANC Education spokesperson Khalid Sayed welcomed the budget increase but said the party wanted structural inequities to be addressed.

“Sadly, there is little hope that this budget will bring any changes. We have consistently suggested the increase of class sizes in former Model C schools as a viable mechanism to address the overcrowding of classes in poor schools and the crisis of unplaced learners,” he said.

Sayed said the ANC believed the challenge was not necessarily the lack of resources, but poor planning and lack of political will.

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EFF MPL Nosipho Makamba-Botya urged the department to tackle the danger in schools from learners who were used by outside gang members to attack other learners or teachers.

She said Western Cape schools needed to develop enforceable codes of conduct which did not promote or condone racism.

“Just last year, two black learners were racially abused by a white learner in Camps Bay High school.

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“After the school found the learner guilty, they then kept the punishment a secret and used the POPI Act (Protection of Personal Information Act) as an excuse.”

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Cape Argus

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