More than 25 000 children who have migrated from other provinces and other countries have swollen learner numbers putting pressure on WCED. Picture: Andrew Robertson/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - More than 25 000 children who have migrated from other provinces and other countries have swollen learner numbers and increased pressure on all resources in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

At least 19761 of the learners came from the Eastern Cape, 147 from Gauteng, 612 from the Northern Cape, 403 from the Free State, 398 from KwaZulu-Natal, 216 from North-West, 154 from Mpumalanga, 133 from Limpopo and 2341 from outside South Africa.

The figures were contained in the department’s annual report for the 2018/19 financial year, which said: “The province continued to experience a disproportionately high net-migration in comparison with most other provinces.”

WCED accounting officer Brian Schreuder said during the year under review, the department’s work was impacted on by, among other factors, “continued extremely high learner in migration into the province and severe fiscal constraints which do not keep pace with learner growth and inflow into the province.”

The report said: “The increased number of children in the province will continue to place pressure on school accommodation and available budget. Pressure points in Grade 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11 will be experienced as a result of a combination of the movement of learners through the system and the in-migration points of entry into the system.”

Other factors that affected the department were the severe drought conditions in parts of the province, socio-economic conditions that adversely affect learning in the classroom and gangsterism, which had a psycho-socio impact on learners’ performance that could not be underestimated.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said matric results were a key measure of the state of education in the province. “The total percentage of candidates who passed matric has increased from 75.7% in 2009 to 81.5% last year, an increase of 5.8%.”

“This needs to be seen in the light of the increasing learner numbers in the system - 130 000 over the last five years - increasing class sizes, numbers of matrics coming to the Western Cape, only in Grade 10, and the fact that we have the highest retention rate in the country between Grade 10 and Grade 12 by a long way.”

The report revealed that the retention rate for learners between Grade 10 and 12 fell 2.2% between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The pass rate for last year across all grades, except for Grade 3, fell when compared with 2017; the number of schools with matric pass rates of less than 60% increased from 19 in 2016 to 43 last year.

The ANC’s Khalid Sayed said: “This clearly shows that our education system is in crisis. The province has been experiencing a challenge of unplaced learners and overcrowding in schools.”

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Cape Argus