Western Cape schools 'can't cope' as pupils flood in from other provinces

01 February 2019 - 17:47 By Dave Chambers
Almost 90% of the year-on-year growth in Western Cape pupil numbers is attributable to pupils migrating in from other provinces, especially the Eastern Cape. 'But the money does not follow. The National Treasury has not responded adequately with financial adjustments,' says education MEC Debbie Schäfer.
Almost 90% of the year-on-year growth in Western Cape pupil numbers is attributable to pupils migrating in from other provinces, especially the Eastern Cape. 'But the money does not follow. The National Treasury has not responded adequately with financial adjustments,' says education MEC Debbie Schäfer.
Image: GroundUp/Ashraf Hendricks

More than 16,000 children from other provinces have swollen this year's pupil numbers, the Western Cape education department said on Friday.

Seventy mobile classrooms had been ordered this week to help cope with the influx, said education MEC Debbie Schäfer.

Almost 90% of the year-on-year growth in pupil numbers — which brings the total to 1,063,761 — was attributable to "in-migration from other provinces", she said.

"But the money does not follow the learners. The National Treasury has not responded adequately with financial adjustments to accommodate these learners."

MEC Debbie Schafer says the Western Cape has not been financially compensated for the additional flood of pupils to its schools while other provinces have been cushioned from the effects of losing people.
MEC Debbie Schafer says the Western Cape has not been financially compensated for the additional flood of pupils to its schools while other provinces have been cushioned from the effects of losing people.
Image: Esa Alexander

Schäfer said the increased numbers  meant 15 new schools and 480 more teachers were needed.

"The education department completed six schools in 2018. Another new school will be completed by April and three mobile schools have also been completed to accommodate additional growth in hotspot areas," she said.

"Forty-six additional mobile classrooms have been erected in areas identified for growth, as well as 34 bricks-and-mortar classrooms. Ten mobile classrooms are also being placed at various special schools.

"In 2019, we will see the completion of four new schools, two replacement schools and five new mobile schools." Another 24 classrooms were being built at seven schools using the Moladi construction system.

A Moladi classroom under construction. Because of an influx of pupils from other provinces, 15 new schools and 480 more teachers are needed in the Western Cape.
A Moladi classroom under construction. Because of an influx of pupils from other provinces, 15 new schools and 480 more teachers are needed in the Western Cape.
Image: Moladi.com

"But even with all this delivery it is simply not enough to keep up with the demand for places in Western Cape schools. And the procurement and erection of mobile classrooms is not an overnight process," said Schäfer.

"More than 130,000 learners have moved to the Western Cape from other provinces over the past five years, mainly from the Eastern Cape, placing the education system in the Western Cape under considerable pressure."

About 5,700 pupils have not yet been placed in schools, and "we expect more new late applications in the coming two weeks".

Schäfer said the influx of pupils, combined with lower budget allocations from the national government, was placing education in the province under "immense" pressure.

"Unless we are provided with more money and more capacity to fulfil our mandate, we cannot keep up with the demand that is being placed on this province," she said.

"It is unacceptable that we have been receiving funding based on outdated information. We have not been compensated for the additional numbers, while other provinces have been cushioned from the effects of losing people."


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