SPEECH BY EDMUND VAN VUUREN IN THE EASTERN CAPE LEGISLATURE ON THE BUDGET FOR EDUCATION FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR 2011/2012.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Members of the Executive Council, Honourable members in the house and guests present here today, allow me to state unequivocally that it is indeed an honour and a privilege to present a report as a member of the Democratic Alliance, on the Budget of the Provincial Department of Education for the period 2011/2012.

Honourable Speaker, the core function of all those involved in education, is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

Honourable Speaker, the sheer size of this education system, with 69,390 educators serving 2,020 158 million learners in 5,612 schools, has ensured that, in spite of progress made, there are still major challenges and backlogs, particularly with regard to school infrastructure. Currently there are 910 public schools without water, 506 schools without sanitation, 678 schools without electricity, a shortage of more than 12000 classrooms and a severe shortage of specialist facilities such as media centres and laboratories. These are some of the challenges that should be addressed through the budgetary processes, as well as by skilled staff, which are shockingly lacking.

Honourable speaker, it was said that money is not an issue in the Department of Education, but the mismanagement thereof. It is indeed an indictment and a reference to the ineptitude of certain officials within the Department of Education.

Honourable MEC, your Department has been labelled by all and sundry as a dysfunctional unit with an overpopulated staff that has in most instances contributed in the Department receiving adverse financial reports and disclaimers.

Honourable Speaker, R24,63 billion was allocated to the Provincial Education Department for the period 01 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. Of these funds, 87,8% was budgeted for personnel expenditure and 12,2% for non-personnel issues. From the comparative figures outlined as to personnel expenditure, it is obvious that the spending on personnel in this Province is overheating. Deducing from this expenditure norms, this Department is actually overstaffed. Indeed there are no shortages of staff. The problem unfortunately is that non-critical posts are filled in respect of critical posts, which give rise to non-implementation of service delivery.

Honourable MEC, R22,112 billion represents the total equitable share with R2,522 billion as Conditional Grants allocation. From the equitable share, employees must be compensated and transfers and subsidies must be paid as well as payments for goods and services. Currently R19, 410 billion of the R22, 112 billion of equitable share has been budgeted for compensation of employees, which means only R2,702 billion can be spent on transfers to 5612 schools, which amounts to R1,3 billion. Of the remaining R1,4 billion of the equitable share, R1,355 billion has been allocated for goods and services. Considering what needs to be funded from the equitable share, that not much will be left, approximately R45 million to cater for the other multitude of services within the Department of Education.

On top of all of this, the Department still need to find approximately R3,164 billion to cover the following expenses. R906 million is needed to compensate the recently re instated temporary educators, until the end of the current financial year.

There is also a R350 million budget shortfall, excluding temporary teachers, on the compensation of teachers. This Department has also incurred an over expenditure of R 856,252 million for the 2009/2010 financial year and a preliminary over expenditure of R 528,64 million for the 2010/2011 financial year.

This Department also has R528,64 million in accruals. These monies are owed to service providers for scholar transport, school nutrition and salaries to educators.

Honourable MEC, what do we as public representatives tell the people out there regarding the financial management or mismanagement of state funds within the Department of Education.

I want to pose this question to you, Honourable MEC for Education, How is this +- R3,1 billion budget shortfall going to be addressed. We are all aware that since 2007/2008, the personnel versus non personnel ratio in the Department has been above 83% with this having increased to 87,8% in 2010/2011 and throughout the 2011/2012 Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The national target is 80:20, which means that this Department will be having huge budget shortfalls. These shortfalls can be ascribed to the incompetent managers who for the last fifteen years could not even resolve the infrastructure issues at Hertzog Primary school in the Fort Beaufort District. Honourable MEC, these incompetencies should be addressed with the necessary urgency.

I know that there are some reasons for the hugely increased personnel costs, such as displaced officials that lead to payment of personnel that are not effectively utilized. Also, unfunded financial outlays are made to excess educators within the schooling system, as well as the huge salaries being paid to suspended senior managers for extended periods, without these cases been resolved in the near future.

Honourable MEC, your Department has under spent on the conditional grants allocated, namely R480 million on the Provincial Infrastructure Conditional Grant. I sincerely hope there are plans in progress that no under spending will take place. These conditional grants are uncontested funds and should be utilised as such. Non spending of conditional grants is unacceptable, also for the reason that no virements can take place within these allocations, that’s why R480 million had to be returned to the Provincial Treasury.

In conclusion, honourable MEC, the budget that has increased by 0,02 % from the 2010/2011 revised estimate will still be reduced to servicing these mentioned aspects from previous financial years. Honourable MEC these spending patterns should change as it compounds to the hardships suffered by our public ordinary schools. The Department does not budget enough for textbooks and furniture, with the result that each learner has still not been provided with a textbook for each learning area offered. This lack of learner teacher support material, brought about by the unacceptable high expenditure on personnel, has contributed to our meagre results obtained thus far. Equip our learners with the necessary tools of trade, and we will be pleasantly surprised, as to the effect it will have on outcomes expected.

The Democratic Alliance believes that monies should be channelled into the core areas of education, and not wasted on bulky personnel that are not equipped to perform their tasks.

The Democratic Alliance affirm its position that education is the foundation for opportunities, and those that purposefully deny our learners these opportunities, must be held accountable.

The Democratic Alliance supports the committee report , but withhold its support for the budget on education in lieu of the figures not being worthy of belief. I thank you.