Give more funds to rural schools – Sadtu
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.
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