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WCED continues to make special needs schools a priority

Picture: Wokandapix/Pixabay

Picture: Wokandapix/Pixabay

Published Apr 9, 2022

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Over the past five years, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has spent R785.7 million on the funding of special needs schools. Just last year, the department had a budget allocation of R172 million for these institutions, which is more than 25% than what was provided in 2017.

This was revealed in a recent parliamentary reply, in which the WCED further confirmed that the funding for these schools is not provided for by the national government.

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"As such, it is up to the DA-led Western Cape Government to ensure that education is inclusive for all children," said DA Western Cape spokesperson for Education, Deidré Baartman.

She said special needs schools are an essential component in providing education to the almost 20 000 children who need it and requires additional funding to make it possible. Any learner who has a particular barrier to learning receives a weighted allocation in relation to the type of disability they have.

Using an example, Baartman said whilst a learner at an ordinary public school received R1 466 in 2021, a learner with epilepsy would have received three times that amount. In scenarios where a child is on the autism spectrum, they would have a weighting of six times the ordinary amount.

"We hope that National Treasury will stick to their promise to review the determinants of the education variable of the provincial equitable share (PES) formula this year. The Western Cape has been lobbying for this issue to be addressed as it is not sustainable for the province to bear the brunt of badly written formulas that do not take into account the real issues affecting people," Baartman said.

She said for years, the Western Cape submitted, as part of the Division of Revenue processes, requests that funding for special needs education should be included in the PES formula.

Baartman said this adds to the already underfunded mandates the provincial Department has had to implement for the past several years.

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She added that the fact that the province is still able to look after these learners is a testament to its commitment to providing quality education to every learner in every classroom.

"We hope that our national counterparts will take this issue seriously and be cognisant of the needs of learners in the Western Cape," she said.

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