Durban - The undercounting of learners by 600 000 means that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education continues to be underfunded by national treasury, Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) were told on Friday. This was during the department’s appearance before the finance committee where MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana told MPLs that while the department’s R47 billion may look massive, it remained insufficient when compared to the province’s needs. KZN, according to the department has 1,8 million learners, but 600 000 of them do not have certificates or identity documents.The department officials further explained that when national treasury conducts an audit it relies on certificates and IDs to determine the learner numbers. This assists in the allocation of funds for each pupil from the national budget. “What this means is that because these 600 000 learners do not have certificates, they are not accounted for and treasury does not fund them. Therefore the 1,2 million learners are subsidising the 600 000 and this has an impact on the department's desired outcomes,” said Dlungwana.It also emerged that in KZN the number of teacher positions has remained the same for ten years while learner numbers increased each year in the thousands.“There is a serious gap that we need to close and we are looking at measures that will help in this regard because this is an impediment to our targets,” Dlungwana added.Aside from teacher posts, the department is also battling to fill admin staff posts owing to a funding shortage. Last month things came to a head when teachers in two districts were not paid on time and this raised teacher unions’ tempers.“It may appear to be not so important but admin staff is important because they ensure proper functionality of the system,” the MEC stressed. Finance committee chairperson Sipho Nkosi said the undercounting would be raised when the committee meets with a national treasury official on March 22 at the legislature.