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Cost Analysis – Budgets and Bricks, South Africa

The Governing Body of the Rivonia Primary School brought a case (in 2013) against the Gauteng Department of Education after the HoD of the GDE forcibly placed a grade 1 learner in the school. In evidence placed before the Constitutional Court in the Rivonia Primary School case, the GDE set out their plans to build new schools. These included very specific commitments regarding spending on infrastructure in the province.

In 2009, it was projected that over the next 3 years an average of 40% of the Department’s total infrastructure budget will be spent on the provisioning of new schools in newly developed areas as well as areas where accommodation backlogs are present. In monetary terms, the government planned to spend a total of R 1.780 billion over the three years. However, the GDE reported at the start of the 2016 school year that 20 000 children had not been placed in schools.

This raised three questions:

  • Did the GDE implement the infrastructure plans it presented to the Constitutional Court?
  • Was the GDE’s infrastructure planning aligned to the growing demand for school spaces?
  • Did GDE’s infrastructure plans and budgets reflect a concerted effort to ensure progressive compliance with the school infrastructure norms and standards?

This report seeks to answer these questions based on publicly available information.

The report explores whether the GDE’s promises in the Rivonia Primary School case have been met and whether the GDEs plan on infrastructure is sufficient. The GDE was responsible for analysing and providing for school infrastructure, but due to poor planning (primarily the failure to account for future growth of learners) there were 20 000 learners without a school place at the start of 2016. The report grapples with the question of whether GDE’s spending for 2015 is sufficient –and the task is hampered by the fact that the available data is limited, and the data that is available is problematic.

The report found that GDE’s infrastructure plan did not take into account trends in learner numbers – the plan simply increased the learner population figures by 1% despite higher past growth in actual learner numbers (from it’s own Snap data) and populations shifts in the province.

Based on audited outcomes the GDE fell short of the promises made in the projected budgets to the Constitutional Court for new infrastructure spend in 2011/12 – 2013/14.

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