Special schools for agriculture and arts planned

2009-08-05 00:00

THE Education Department is looking in to developing “focus schools” offering music and performing arts in a bid to open access to all pupils, particularly those in historically deprived communities, Education MEC Senzo Mchunu told the legislature during his budget presentation yesterday.

But before that, the department will for the next five years focus on the recapitalisation of seven agricultural high schools and 32 technical high schools.

The budget is R24 billion, with some of the main focuses on teacher development; boosting matric results; early child development and infrastructure.

An amount of R2,4 million has been set aside to assist schools that achieved below 50% matric passes last year.

It will cost R19 932 000 to train and give stipends to over 600 practitioners for the early childhood development programme for children under four.

Integral to ensuring quality education, Mchunu said, is the presence of qualified teachers. Some 2 000 teachers who are either unqualified, inappropriately or under-qualified will get bursaries, while over R116 million has been set aside for learnerships, skills programmes and in-house training and development of over 1 300 teachers.

He said the department has partnered with the University of KZN and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to train 198 principals for an advanced certificate in education management.

He also stressed the importance of strengthening consultation dedicated to the implementation of what he termed “non-negotiables”, such as teaching.

“The ideal situation is always having every teacher crazy about teaching and not skipping periods. We will be making an effort in improving teacher qualifications and supplying teachers with bursaries to try inspire this. But the bottom line is teachers are employed to teach and that is what they must do.”

THE department allocated R1,3 billion for infrastructure.

They plan to build a total of 15 new schools, 3 000 toilets and 1 750 new classrooms. They will also work towards fencing 300 schools and providing 160 schools with sanitation facilities.

An amount of R224 million has been set aside for the refurbishing and upgrading of schools, with R121 million for the quality improvement development support and upliftment programme (QIDS-UP) — extra support in infrastructure, staff development programmes and support materials for schools in poor communities.

The department said it is deploying 2 890 guards in the poorest schools and those in dangerous areas.

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