The President of NAPTOSA, Mr. Basil Manuel, speaking in Pretoria today, said that the Minister of Basic Education had presented the public with a budget vote interspersed with impressive-sounding statistics and achievements. “Whilst NAPTOSA agrees that there have been gains in many areas, including access to education, the provision of workbooks and the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) achievements, reports on education such as the recently-leaked National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) report, paint a very disturbing picture of the state of education,” said Mr. Manuel.

NAPTOSA welcomed several announcements by the Minister, including plans to promote reading, increased funding for nutrition and learner transport as well as the intention to address issues related to bullying, drugs and violence in schools.

“The budget allocated to education is significant and NAPTOSA agrees with the Minister that the budget is confirmation of the government’s commitment to education. The Union, however, has a number of concerns which have not been addressed in the budget speech,” said Mr. Manuel.

Mr. Manuel referred to the common thread in the speech that spoke of efficiency, quality teaching and learning that are critical to meeting the National Development Plan (NDP) imperatives. “NAPTOSA is disappointed that the Minister has not commented on the status of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) unit, nor did she make reference to funding for the DBE-Teacher Union Collaboration (TUC) project for teacher professional development,” said Mr. Manuel.  
“The Minister referred to aligning the budget with the National Development Plan (NDP) and NAPTOSA welcomes the DBE improving the quality of the current Grade R, incorporating Grade R in all public primary schools and preparations for the implementation of the two-years of pre-Grade 1 programme. There was, however, no mention of the training of early childhood development practitioners and the upgrading of their qualifications. Increasing access to early childhood development without developing the practitioners will not result in quality learning and teaching," added Mr. Manuel. 

"The Minister referred to the newly-promulgated Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS), the Institutionalisation of Curriculum Differentiation and the Policy on Concessions as key drivers of inclusivity in the country, but omitted to indicate that implementation was stalled on account of a lack of funds," said Mr. Manuel.

Mr. Manuel further stated that despite the billions of rands allocated to education annually, there were many initiatives that remained just that as these programmes had not been budgeted for. "The Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) programme serves as an example in this regard. There were provinces that could not implement the pilot project in 2014 as there was no money to pay educators. Whilst NAPTOSA endorses the sentiment that the IIAL is considered a priority to promote social cohesion, the Union questions the wisdom of rolling out the IIAL programme in 3 558 schools. The increased demands in respect of the length of the school day for learners in the Foundation Phase have not been thought through. In addition, clarity is required on how learners in these schools could have different requirements placed on them (i.e. number of languages to be taken) compared to learners in other schools. The fact that only a percentage of schools in the Country will be expected to adhere to the demands of the IIAL policy is incomprehensible," said Mr. Manuel.

In closing, Mr. Manuel cautioned that the budget would not achieve the desired outcomes if provinces failed to administer their funds properly.

Basil Manuel: 079 508 6228