We once again rise with vigour to present to this house the 2020/2021 Budget Statement that is centred around our endeavour to strengthen the improvement of our education system and the lives of all our learners, who in an unprecedented manner this year, have had to face one of the most challenging periods in recent history.
Madam Speaker, it is common knowledge that we present this budget statement against the backdrop of the very tumultuous period for our country in general and for the education system in particular because of the global pandemic, the COVID-19.
Not even in the days of apartheid, not even during the most perilous and difficult days of the state of emergency did we see the whole country shutting down all public and private schools for more than a month.
The COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the education sector. Schools had to be closed before the due date and have not opened up to today. The time lost for teaching and learning will have a negative impact on the learners and their developmental needs.
During the period of lockdown, the department introduced a number of interventions aimed at mitigating against the time lost for teaching and learning in the classroom. These interventions included radio lessons, virtual lessons and making study materials available through the KwaZulu-Natal Funda Portal. The partnership with Vodacom also allowed our learners to access the study material through the Vodacom e-School, which is available for free to those who are Vodacom subscribers.
We concede that these interventions were not able to substitute the classroom method of teaching and learning. Given the socio-economic challenges afflicting many parts of the Province, there are learners who could not have access to these online facilities due to the lack of connectivity and the cost of data.
We want to thank our educators, who are our most valuable resource, for the sacrifices that they made and their commitment during radio lessons and all manner of virtual lessons that took place during the period in question.
As we prepare for the re-opening of schools, amid the continued rise of infections, we are called on to work extremely hard to ensure that our schools are safe for the educators, learners and non-teaching personnel in our schools…