Give more funds to ru­ral schools – Sadtu

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

A move to bring ru­ral and town­ship schools on par with for­mer Model C schools is on the cards if a pro­posal, put for­ward by the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union (Sadtu), is ap­proved. The union wants fund­ing to be al­lo­cated ac­cord­ing to a school’s needs, rather than per learner.

In tabling the pro­posal at an Ed­u­ca­tion Labour Re­la­tions Coun­cil ind­aba last month, the union urged Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga to con­sider it.

Sadtu gen­eral sec­re­tary Mug­wena Maluleke said along with the pro­posal came a res­o­lu­tion to form work streams to deal with the fund­ing model.

He said the cur­rent al­lo­ca­tion was per­pet­u­at­ing the legacy of apartheid 23 years into South Africa’s democ­racy. Re­sources af­forded to ru­ral and town­ship schools were in­com­pa­ra­ble with those af­forded to ur­ban schools.

“The qual­ity of tools is not im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment of teach­ing and learn­ing,” he said, adding that al­lo­ca­tions based on crit­i­cal schools’ re­quire­ments would solve the prob­lem.

The union be­lieves that the pro­posal matches the goals of gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.

Maluleke said if the gov­ern­ment agreed to it, dis­ad­van­taged ru­ral and town­ship learn­ers would be helped in a num­ber of ways, in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing:

• Teach­ers would be em­ployed to as­sist learn­ers, who did not live with their par­ents, with their home­work.

• Learn­ers with dis­abil­i­ties would be catered for through em­ploy­ing teach­ers with spe­cialised skills.

• Teach­ers of gate­way subjects such as science and tech­nol­ogy would be de­ployed to ru­ral and town­ship schools.

• Gov­ern­ment would pro­vide ad­e­quate school in­fras­truc­ture.

• The out­sourc­ing of scholar trans­port would be stopped and in­stead, pub­lic trans­port would be set up for this pur­pose.

Maluleke said the pro­posed fund­ing model could ar­rest the con­tin­ued mi­gra­tion of learn­ers to ur­ban ar­eas. Many schools were fac­ing clo­sure in a num­ber of prov­inces, in­clud­ing the Eastern Cape, be­cause of an in­fras­truc­ture back­log amount­ing to R1 bil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to Maluleke, the state’s fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion is based on a global poverty rat­ing model which does not di­rectly take into ac­count the needs of poor schools.

Ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment spokesper­son Eli­jah Mh­langa said Sadtu’s pro­posal would be con­sid­ered as part of nor­mal stake­holder in­put on pol­icy de­vel­op­ment.

He said the amount of fund­ing al­lo­cated was in­flu­enced by a school’s quin­tile rank­ing and en­rol­ment num­bers.

Zuk­iswa Kota, an ed­u­ca­tion re­searcher based at Rhodes Univer­sity’s Pub­lic Ser­vice Ac­count­abil­ity Monitor, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion would cau­tion against im­ple­ment­ing dras­tic changes to a sys­tem which, while laden with chal­lenges, had given thou­sands of learn­ers plagued by se­vere fi­nan­cial con­straints the op­por­tu­nity to ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion.

“There are cer­tainly prob­lems in the cur­rent school fund­ing model,” she said.

“For ex­am­ple, el­i­gi­ble learn­ers in higher quin­tile schools may not ben­e­fit from the school nu­tri­tion grant.”

In 2015, the mon­i­tor­ing body called for Trea­sury to re­view the quin­tile fund­ing sys­tem to en­sure that learn­ers’ rights to ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion were not in­fringed upon by their be­ing ex­cluded as a re­sult of be­ing in schools not sub­sidised by the state.

Kota said then fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, in his 2016 budget re­view, ac­knowl­edged the need to un­der­take this re­view. “We call on Sadtu to con­sider ways to sup­port the im­prove­ment of the cur­rent sys­tem. This needs care­ful, rig­or­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion, given that we are talk­ing about a sys­tem that caters for mil­lions of young South Africans,” she said.

“There is space for im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency and cred­i­bil­ity of the cur­rent model.”

Pro­fes­sor Linda Chisholm, from the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg’s Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion Rights and Trans­for­ma­tion, said in­equal­ity at school level still ex­isted.

“We know that gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to the pro-poor fund­ing of schools and that the ex­ist­ing norms and stan­dards en­sure that schools in wealth­ier ar­eas re­ceive less than schools in poorer ar­eas,” she said.

“But we also know that par­ents in both rich and poor ar­eas still con­trib­ute a great deal to the school­ing of their chil­dren. And so in­equal­i­ties grow as the bet­ter-off can con­trib­ute more.”

She said while there was new re­search on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween fam­ily and learner mi­gra­tion, there had not been a new pub­lic de­bate on how best to fund schools and learn­ers. Hence, Sadtu’s pro­posal had ini­ti­ated an im­por­tant dis­cus­sion.

TALK TO US Do you agree with Sadtu’s pro­posal? Do you have any other sug­ges­tions on fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word SADTU and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

Mug­wena Maluleke

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