R6.3bn cut in KZN education budget will 'severely' affect pupils and teachers — MEC
KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu says a R6.3bn budget cut will severely affect pupils, teachers and the building and renovation of schools.
Speaking at the department’s budget vote for 2021, which was held virtually on Thursday, Mshengu said the budget cuts over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) meant that the available budget did not sufficiently cater for both filled and vacant personnel numbers on the system.
Mshengu said this was mainly due to the budget cuts attributed to financial consolidation and the budget reductions implemented as a result of the public service wage freeze against the compensation of employees.
The allocated budget of just more than R53bn has been spread thinly to cover various costs, including administration, public ordinary school education, independent school subsidies, infrastructure development, early childhood development, and examination and education-related services.
“The affect of the budget cuts of R6.3bn will severely be felt by learners in the classroom. Because of these budget cuts, it is now a reality that we will have classrooms that will be left without educators; that schools will not be sufficiently supported by district offices; that head offices will not be able to effectively support the entire system,” he said.
“Cutting off unnecessary and unapproved travelling of staff members; limiting approved travelling kilometres to 1,750; capping KZN cars' petrol cards to R3,000 a month; cutting on legal costs; proper management of staff leave and exit packages; and consolidation of small and non-viable schools — these measures will not fully mitigate against the affect of budget cuts,” said Mshengu.
On the issue of pit latrines, particularly in rural schools, Mshengu stated that out of the 4,898 pit toilets identified in the country during the audit conducted by the department of basic education in April 2018, 1,377 were in KZN.
“We can report that 410 pit latrines out of the 1,377 have since been eradicated. There are 526 under construction and due to be completed this financial year.
“There are also 171 projects which are in various stages — including tender, evaluation and awarding — for this financial year. It should also be noted that 51 of these schools no longer require the intervention as they have been closed due to non-viability status.”