File picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape Education Department can learn from working-class women

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

Share this article:

Muhammad Khalid Sayed

Cape Town - Research by entities such as the Marks Foundation has shown that the old-age pension and even child support grants are used by recipients as a means to start and run a tuck-shop or small business in order to generate more income, thereby making these limited funds stretch.

A friend recently recounted to me how as he was growing up, his father would come and hand over his meagre wages to his mother week after week. His mother would make the wages stretch to feed him and his 14 brothers and sisters. Not a night went by when he or his siblings went to bed hungry.

This story continues to resonate with many people living in the Western Cape and across South Africa. Often, research has shown us, large families continue to be dependent on the old-age pension provided by the state. Our aged have had to make the small amount they receive from the state work for them and their many dependants, frequently including adult children and their grandchildren.

With few resources, working class women have had to make things work. If anything, it is a living argument about how grants do not make one dependent on the state but empower one to do more.

It was with these scenarios in mind that I read the piece of my colleague, the DA's Honourable Lorraine Botha MPL, in the Cape Argus on Thursday, December 24: “WCED has been calling to prioritise the adapting of the Provincial Equitable Share”.

While I would be one of the first to call for more resources to be allocated to the Western Cape from national government, it is my constitutional duty as well as that of the Honourable Botha's, to ensure that the not-so-little that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is already getting is used wisely and correctly, as our mothers and pensioners have done.

Let us be clear, though. Education receives one of the largest chunks, if not the largest, of the provincial budget. R25 billion is no small change, after this year's unprecedented second adjustment budget, with an effective increase of over R16 million.

Hardly any other provincial department received such an increase in its adjustment budget. In fact, in the midst of a global pandemic, the provincial treasury cut the provincial health department's budget by more than R759m.

Yet when we look at the facts and see what the ANC-led national government has only recently given to the Western Cape, particularly for education, after the adjustment budgets, we will notice the over R814m from the Presidential Employment Initiative Programme for the employment of teacher assistants.

If we were to agree with the Honourable Botha that the WCED was getting short changed and that the provincial equitable share should be increased, the question then becomes: Is the WCED using the supposedly little that they are getting effectively?

We have only to look at the Auditor-General's (AG) latest report to assist us in answering this question, and the answer is a resounding: no! They are not using the supposedly little, though nearly R25bn, effectively.

In her second special and latest report, the new AG found that:

◆ The WCED selected a preferred supplier to procure over 2 600 cloth masks to the tune of over R54m, in contravention of National Treasury Instructions.

◆ Quoting from the AG's report: “None of the schools visited maintained a PPE (personal protective equipment) register indicating the type of PPE received, issued and used”.

◆ The AG report, among others, continues: “One delivery note indicated that 206 containers of 25-litres each of multipurpose disinfectant had been delivered even though the school only received 10 such containers”.

The political leadership of the WCED can learn from working-class and poor grannies and mothers.

* Muhammad Khalid Sayed MPL is the ANC spokesperson on education in the Western Cape. This article was first published on Voices360.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Share this article:

Related Articles