The Eastern Cape Department of education needs to find R2.823 billion to balance its books for 2011/12 financial year.

This department was allocated an amount of R24.6 billion for the 2011/2012 financial year. Due to accruals, over expenditure and non-budgeting for certain items an amount of R2.823 billion must be found from somewhere in addition to the appropriated amount of R24.6 billion.

This shortfall of R2.823 billion is as result of the following:

1. Current accruals amounting to R523 million, which may still increase as verification is still taking place;

2. Over expenditure of R1.2 billion in the two previous financial years, mainly on salary issues;

3. A shortfall of R300 million for compensation of educators for the 2011/2012 financial year as well as R800 million that is needed to pay the temporary teachers that were reinstated as per court order.

As result of this, the R2.823 billion that was not budgeted for, has placed tremendous cost pressures on the budget to balance the books.

The Democratic Alliance is deeply perturbed that at the end of the day our learners will be the losers. Reasons being that the Eastern Cape Department of Education is actually sinking deeper into the hole than it was in the previous financial year. For the department to be able to offset this R2.823 billion they either need to find this money from the Provincial Treasury or some programmes will unfortunately be affected. It is like robbing Paul to pay Peter.

This is indeed unacceptable that as a result of these cost pressures less resources will be made available to the most needy schools while the personnel expenditure is currently standing at 87% of the budget which equates to almost R20 billion.

The DA believes that programmes such as school infrastructure, scholar transport, yearly transfers to schools as per the norms and standards of funding, school furniture and education aids will suffer in the long run. This will unfortunately lead to the morale of educators being negatively affected. Without resources quality and effective teaching cannot take place.

The DA is appealing to the MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, to approach either the Provincial Treasury or the National Department of Education to intervene financially in order for this beleaguered department to start on a clean slate come the 2012/2013 financial year.