Is there money for books and teachers?

2013-10-10 00:00

THE provision of learner and teacher support material (LTSM) was “sufficient” for this academic year and 2014, provincial head of department Nkosinathi Sishi said yesterday.

Responding to the announcement to the education portfolio committee on Tuesday, Sishi, however, contradicted himself.

“We bought textbooks and we are ready to deliver by November 1. Books that are bought are sufficient. However, there are a lot of children who are still sharing books,” Sishi said.

He had told the committee that five pupils were currently sharing one book in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of lack of funds to buy more books.

“We have to secure more funds so that they do not share books,” Sishi told The Witness yesterday.

Sishi made the statements following budget cuts instituted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education to cover personnel costs when it reprioritised its funds.

He said the cuts were a cause for concern as the department now has to deal with basic issues instead of providing quality education.

It was reported yesterday that R155 million budgeted for LTSM was part of the funds reprioritised to pay monies owed to employees. Also cut was R500 million for school infrastructure.

The monies arise from occupational specific dispensation and wage agreements dating back to 2008 that were never implemented due to lack of funds.

This happens as the department is saddled with 800 vacancies and 1 866 mainly administrative posts not provided for in the budget, as well as R80 billion in infrastructure backlogs.

Cutting the infrastructure budget means the refurbishment and building of new schools cannot be carried out. KZN is supposed to be building 14 schools per financial year.

Sishi insisted that the education sector was hugely underfunded. “These are issues the MEC can’t deal with alone,” he said. He added that the department desperately needed more funding, which could be kept at Treasury and the accessed when the need arose.

According to Sishi, the provincial department needed at least R2,8 billion to address employee costs and R80 billion for infrastructure.

Sishi added that a motivation for additional funding had been made to the finance portfolio committee and Provincial Treasury. “It is my job to cry so that the future of our children can be secure,” he explained in his plea for help to the Treasury.

Portfolio committee chairperson Linda Hlongwa said Treasury ought to find ways to get money for the department.

“There is money sitting somewhere,” Hlongwa said.

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