Gauteng ‘under-spending’ on early childhood

The Gauteng department of education has spent only a tiny portion of its budget for early childhood development (ECD), the Democratic Alliance claims.

This, despite Gauteng education minister Barbara Creecy’s commitment in her July budget speech to “a quality education system [that] begins right at the start of a child’s school life in Grade R”.

“We need to improve the quality and sustainability of primary, secondary and special education schooling across all grades and phases including Grade R,” she said.

But departmental spokesperson Charles Phahlane strongly denied under-expenditure in the first quarter. “The work has been done the invoices have just not been captured yet,” he told the Mail & Guardian on Monday.

The DA’s Khume Ramulifho had said in a statement on the weekend that the department should by this stage of the 2011/12 financial year have spent about 25% of its ECD budget — but had used only 14%.

Phahlane said “the work” so far done included ensuring supplies of textbooks and other learning materials and training practitioners.

“Activities took place and the invoices will [still] arrive This doesn’t mean that the work wasn’t done,” he said.

Spending on track
Ramulifho’s statement referred to the Gauteng finance department’s first quarterly report, tabled last week, which said the education department had spent only 14% of its total annual budget in the first quarter of this year.

Creecy’s budget speech showed R588.6-million had been allocated to ECD — which is 2% of the department’s R25.9-billion budget.

ECD refers to the care of children from birth to nine years old with the active participation of parents, caregivers, healthcare workers and other providers.

“If spending was on track, then about 25% would have been spent in the April to June quarter,” Ramulifho told the M&G.

“So payments were not done during the quarter under review. If Charles [Phahlane] claims they were made, maybe they were done in July or August — which confirms under-expenditure.”

Phahlane admitted there had been under-expenditure on ECD in the past. “That’s why the minister decided that funds would be decentralised from a provincial office and will go to school governing bodies,” he said.

“The first tranche was transferred at the end of July and the next tranche will be transferred at the end of August.”

Creecy said the ECD budget would partly go to establishing an additional 700 Grade R sites.

“This will increase access by the 2012 academic year to at least 92000 Grade R learners at regulated and registered public sites and 5152 learners in independent sites,” she said.

Gauteng has about two million learners in more than 1900 schools.

Addressing the “challenge” of spending on ECD, Creecy said in her speech that the department had established a “dedicated team to manage the expenditure and process to universalise Grade R”.

Ramulifho claims the ECD programme has never spent its entire budget.

“This undermines the urgent need for proper education during childhood learning,” he said. “If learners lack skills from the foundation phase, it impacts negatively on how they perform with literacy, numeracy and languages in later years.”

He said Creecy had committed, in a meeting with the DA, to spending the ECD’s entire budget in every quarter but has so far failed to do so.

“The DA urges the minister to stop talking and start acting.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

The statue of Louis XVI should remain forever handless

A statue of the French king in Louisville, Kentucky was damaged during the protests against police killings. It should not be repaired

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday