Dept hopes to save R350 mln

2010-03-19 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department stands to save over R350 million by April in an ongoing programme to reduce surplus teachers.

The MEC for Education, Senzo Mchunu, told the pre-budget hearings of the Provincial Legislature’s education portfolio committee in Pietermaritzburg yesterday that a task team with five members from the department and another five from different trade unions has been established to resolve the issue of surplus teachers.

While some schools in the province are complaining of a shortage of teachers, others apparently have more than they need following decreases in the number of pupils.

According to the senior general manager (human resources and administrative services), Lulama Mbobo, about 4 500 teachers have been identified as “surplus teachers” and are earmarked for redeployment to schools experiencing shortages or those presently manned by temporary teachers.

“The task team will look at the issue of redeployment of surplus educators to schools where they are needed most [and] those that are currently displaced for various reasons, and other issues relating to eliminating surplus teachers,” Mchunu said.

He said the task team was established at the beginning of the year to ensure all schools are sufficiently staffed.

Where applicable, some of the surplus teachers will replace temporary teachers and fill posts where there are shortages.

“Some temporary teachers had been converted to permanent posts,” Mbobo said.

Presenting the proposed budget for the department before the committee yesterday, the department’s chief financial officer, Hlengiwe Mcuma, disclosed that more than R24 billion of the R29 billion allocated to the department will go on salaries.

The Education Department has received the biggest chunk of the R70,8 billion allocated to the province.

Among the prioritised programmes outlined by the department for this financial year are the upscaling of early child development, increasing the number of schools with Section 21 functions, and the provision of transport to pupils with disabilities.

Others include the expansion of grade R to meet the 2010 requirements, ensuring that each pupil in grades 10 to 12 has a set of books for all learning areas, extension of no-fee schools to quintile three, reimbursements to fee-paying schools where they grant exemption to pupils and the rehabilitation of boarding schools.

The extension of the national schools nutrition programme to quintile two secondary schools and quintile three primary schools, which was announced in Premier Zweli Mkhize’s state of the province address, is also expected to be accommodated in the budget.

With the provision of this programme — quintile one to three in primary schools and quintile one to two in secondary schools — Mcuma said a total of 1 801 343 pupils, which is about 65% of pupils in the province, will be covered by the nutrition programme.

Five conditional grants from the national government are going to be administered by the department this financial year.

Among these is one focusing on HIV and Aids to provide access to an appropriate prevention, care and support for pupils, teachers and support staff infected and affected by HIV and Aids.

Mcuma said that in the current financial year, the department intends to provide about 3 000 schools with quality HIV prevention and sexual reproduction health programmes and to provide peer education programmes to 7 660 schools.

On the simmering strike by staff in FET colleges, Mchunu acknowledged that some are facing financial instabilities that cause delays in the payment of salaries.

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