Newspaper clipping – The Pretoria News – 4 August 2009

Billions budgeted for teachers’ skills

The Gauteng Education Department is to spend 73 percent of its R18,9-billion budget on staff this financial year.

Education MEC Barbara Creecy said the amount, R13,8-billion, was 1 percent less than in the previous financial year, but every rand would contribute to “quality education, every day.”

Giving her budget speech in the legislature on Monday, Creecy said research indicated that teacher quality affected pupil success more than any other variable.
“Teachers determine, in many ways, who will live in poverty or prosperity,” she said.
“They will determine, frequently, who gets to read, write, compute and go on to secondary and tertiary institutions.”

To deal with the problem of teacher quality and possible skills deficit, the department would establish a database of unemployed teachers who could be drawn on to fill vacancies.
“A pool of replacement teachers will also be established and trained to ensure that we can, without disrupting learning, take teachers out for intensive training and retraining,” said Creecy.
“This training and development programme will last for anything up to six months and must result in those teachers going back into the classroom with the required confidence and competence to teach effectively. We need to ensure that every child is taught by a series of great teachers.”

The programme is to focus on pupil literacy, numeracy and early childhood development – which has been allocated R309-million, 44 percent more than in the previous financial year.
“It is critically important that we invest more in this part of our schooling system to ensure our children have the right foundation before they start school.
“We need to make sure that this foundation results in children being able to read and write before the end of grade 1.”

Also on the cards were improvements to school infrastructure and the building of new schools to end overcrowding, Creecy said.