Treasury backs education plan in Limpopo
THE Department of Basic Education's catch-up plan for Limpopo pupils' learning that was delayed by the seven month wait for textbooks this year is comprehensive, and the Treasury has agreed to provide additional funds to get teaching and learning in the province back on track, department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said yesterday.
Nongovernmental organisation Section 27 raised its concern over the department's latest progress report on the catch-up plan, saying it fell short of the requirements set out in a court settlement between the two parties, and did not represent a solution for the province's pupils.
This comes amid calls for Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to be fired or step down, and scrutiny shifts to the educational performance of Limpopo as end of year examinations get closer.
Section 27 executive director Mark Heywood said the latest departmental progress report had focused entirely upon the delivery of "learner subject guides" by the end of this month, and had no thing on other issues included in the settlement such as extra tuition.
This was despite the agreement that progress reports should be comprehensive, said Mr Heywood.
But Mr Lesufi said the department's intervention in the province had made significant progress, with the learner subject guides representing only one part of the efforts to fully address the consequences of the textbook delay.
The catch-up plan would include extra tuition, special weekend and holiday camps, the study guides, and an oversight programme for analysing and evaluating pupil performance, he said.
Meetings with over 4,300 principals in the province had been concluded, providing their support for the catch-up plan, and consultation with teacher unions in the province over issues of extra tuition were continuing, said Mr Lesufi.
South African Democratic Teachers' Union Limpopo secretary Matome Raphasha said a task team on the terms of the extra tuition had been formed with the department, and the details were expected to be concluded within a week.
The union's members were both willing and able to spend the extra time, as well as play their role in the catch-up, however, the issue of remuneration was not negotiable, Mr Raphasha said.
Mr Lesufi said while remuneration was still being addressed, as there were multiple ways in which it could take place, provincial finances would not serve as an impediment in teaching and learning.
The department's intervention in the province has taken place without additional resources, and a constant defence by the department has been that many of the problems it was facing have been inherited.
Mr Lesufi said the department had initiated significant cost-cutting measures, freeing up funds for its intervention, while the Treasury had agreed to provide additional funding should it be necessary.
Ms Motshekga would now be "almost full time" in the province, and would be directly interacting with the principals of affected schools as the catch-up programme is implemented, said Mr Lesufi.
Fears of a repeat of the textbook delay next year - as this year's procurement had used those allocated funds - were groundless.
President Jacob Zuma had appointed a task team, which included five deputy ministers, to look into the causes of the delays in delivering textbooks to Limpopo schools.
The provincial government also instituted its own probe.
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