Union concerned about changes to SA Schools Act

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) on Wednesday raised concerns over the vagueness of some of the proposed amendments to the South African Schools Act.

The amendments make provision for the establishment of a national poverty table of schools for “resource targeting” and an “adequacy benchmark for per-learner funding”.

Sadtu education officer Shermaine Mannah said it is unclear what process will be used to calculate this benchmark.

“The process should also be subject to public debate and scrutiny,” she said.

Mannah also raised fears that poorer provinces might not be able to achieve the adequacy benchmark levels “because the funding mechanism in provinces has not changed in line with the new amendments”.

“It is surely inconceivable that the proposed policy could be differentially implemented across provinces—some declaring non-fee schools, others not,” said Mannah.

“This has to be implemented nationally with the necessary resources made available. Otherwise the current interprovincial inequalities will remain, and equally poor schools will continue to be unequally funded”.

She said that without additional funding or mechanism to redirect resources to the poorest schools in the poorest provinces, this is more likely to “remain a paper exercise”.

Mannah emphasised the union’s support for the changes, saying the current fee system creates a barrier that prevents the poor from accessing education.—Sapa

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