Durban – Stricter regulation of how money is spent as well as increased expertise within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is needed to improve its financial situation.
This is the call from a number of experts in the education field when asked what could be done to address the department’s financial woes.
In November, KZN Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni established an independent committee of law and finance experts to investigate how the department spends its money, the outcome of which is expected next month.
Across the provinces, most of the money allocated for education goes towards paying salaries – about 80 percent.
However, in KZN it is 88 percent or R32.7bn of the total R39.4bn budget.
KZN chief executive of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), Anthony Pierce, said the remaining 12 percent was used for pupil and teacher support material; infrastructure; purchases; school nutrition as well as for electricity and water supply.
Nic Spaull, education researcher in the economics department at Stellenbosch University, said the National Norms and Standards for School Funding (1998) set out a target of 80:20 for personnel to non-personnel costs, but this was not the case in every province.
“This ranges from about 81 percent in Gauteng to 93 percent in Limpopo. We are nowhere near that (80:20) in many provinces.”
Tim Gordon, chief executive of the national governing body foundation, said spending most of the budget on personnel was true of most education systems worldwide, but in South Africa – and in KZN in particular – the proportion was too high.
Two weeks ago, the Daily News reported that about 400 state education advisers in the province were paid more than R132 million last year to do little or no work as pupils and teachers struggled, resulting in the slump in the provincial matric results.
The advisers, who received an average monthly salary of R28 000, said lack of funds had prevented them from doing their jobs properly.
Sarah Sephton of the Legal Resources Centre agreed that most of the budget should go towards salaries, but said there were concerns about the “control”.
“The budget needs to be looked at because to spend about 80 percent on salaries, leaves only 20 percent for the rest and this is problematic. There is also no control over what the department is getting for its money as salaries are the least controlled item.”
Professor Graeme Bloch, education analyst at the Mapungubwe Institute, said: “You can’t cut the budget, but the funds need to be supervised properly.”
Nikki Stein, an attorney for social justice NGO, Section 27, also said the bulk of it should go to teachers because a lot of staff were required, but audits needed to be done.
In November, the KZN legislature’s finance committee was told the Education Department would suspend the construction of schools and redirect funds to compensation of employees.
According to the chairman of the legislature’s finance portfolio committee, Sipho Nkosi, the National Treasury had only budgeted for a 6.4 percent increase in teachers’ salaries, when the settlement agreed upon with unions was 7.4 percent, leaving the provincial department responsible for the shortfall.
He said that 1 percent equated to about R310m.
However, Nkosi said a resolution was also taken at a portfolio committee meeting in August that the department would clarify a number of issues including the headcount for teachers and pupils; the payment of service providers as well as the delay in investigations regarding staff members suspended without pay.
DA MPL, Mbali Ntuli, said the Department of Education could not operate when the budget was changed midway through the year.
She said the department was R700m out of budget.
“The MEC has launched an investigation into how the department spends its money. There is no money to pay for transport or service providers. This affects the schools’ nutrition programme which is worrying because for many children, they only get that one meal a day.”
KZN BUDGET 2015
R39.4 billion for year (national is R177.6bn)
Public Ordinary School Education: R32.6bn
Independent School Subsidies: R74m
Public Special School Education: R844m
Further Education and Training: R351m
Adult Education and Training: R177m
Early Childhood Development: R652m
Auxiliary and Associated Services: R679m
89 437 teachers
19 623 office-based staff
Deficit of 2 194 administration staff
R88m for districts to support schools
4 739 no-fee schools = 80 percent of schools/1.8m pupils/R1.7bn
2.6 million pupils in public ordinary schools
Originally posted 2015-02-08 11:43:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter