Opposition shocked by KZN Education request for an additional R377m
Durban - THREE days ago the provincial Department of Education received R413 million from National Treasury and a further R700m in the third Adjustment Appropriation Bill of 20/21 in the legislature.
However on Wednesday it was reported that MEC Kwazi Mshengu had written an urgent plea to Premier Sihle Zikalala for R377m.
This was to hire 817 teachers apparently needed by a new curriculum that prioritises science, maths and vocational studies.
Mshengu said in order to get the new teachers, his department would require additional funding of R377m.
“Based on the current budget situation, and the recent budget cuts, the department is unable to increase the number of educators in its pool. A need to transform the curriculum in schools has necessitated that some subjects be phased out and be replaced by those that are inclined towards the new career demands. More schools are now focusing on mathematics, science and other key technical and vocational subjects,” said Mshengu in the letter addressed to Zikalala.
IFP MPL Mntomuhle Khawula, who also sits on the education portfolio committee, said that while he sympathised with unemployed teachers, he was shocked with Mshengu’s R377m plea.
“Last week in the legislature we had to deal with the third Adjustment Appropriation Bill 20/21 and the education department was given R1 billion. Just over R700m was from different departments who had a projected underspending with the province and surrendered these funds to the provincial treasury and the rest was from the department itself.
“Two days ago, a special sitting of the KZN Legislature saw the KZN 4th Adjustment Appropriation Bill passed, bringing much-needed relief for education in the province, due to an extra R413m from the National Treasury,” said Khawula.
He said the department’s failure of management should not be a burden to the funds of the province.
“The department’s management has failed from the top down, Mshengu must crack the whip on his management. The maths and science crisis is not new.”
Khawula also said it was important for the department to address its failing recruitment process of level 1 teachers in the form of an app and web portal.
Spokesperson for KZN Unemployed Educators, Mlekeleli Radebe, said they welcomed Mshengu’s “SOS” and echoed Khawula’s sentiments, adding that the recruitment tools continued to be a hurdle.
“Teachers who have maths and science leave KZN going to other provinces frustrated by the province’s recruitment process.”
DA MPL spokesperson on education Imran Keeka said the department’s accounting officer had a lot to answer for when it came to how finances have been managed over a long period.
“In a briefing to the finance committee, the department confirmed that it is likely they will not be able to afford approximately 6 114 filled and vacant administrative and educator posts in the immediate term and over the medium term expenditure framework period: 6 996 and 6 973 posts respectively. This means that the 2020/21 budget does not provide for filling of all vacant posts as well as the 1.5% pay progression for both educators and public service employees.”