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LOBAMBA – Great news could be in store for head teachers as early as next week.  This is because Cabinet will be presented with a study, which may see an increase in the Free Primary Education grant and the OVC support grant.

According to Minister of Education and Training Lady Mabuza, the ministry hopes that the current Cabinet shall approve the results of a hybrid study that is about to be submitted to Cabinet before the end of March 2019.

The minister revealed this information through the portfolio committee report, which was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday.
This was after Shiselweni Region MP Nokuthula Dlamini questioned why the FPE grant had remained the same as it stood at E560 for primary school level while the OVC support grant had remained at E1 950 since 2009. She wondered why the ministry had not addressed this situation because the allocated amounts were no longer adequate to cover the needs of the pupils.


In her written responses, the minister said she was aware that in some cases, small schools did not get enough funds to operate effectively.
She said the ministry had made several attempts to review the fees structure through studies whose results were never approved by Cabinet.
Mabuza said the results of these studies called for an increase in the fee structure at both primary and secondary levels including the OVC grant.
“The ministry hopes that the current Cabinet shall approve the results of the hybrid study that is about to be submitted,” reads the report.

The minister further stated that they were counting on the Members of Parliament to support them as they continued to make requests for the increase.
Mabuza reported that the ministry had conducted several studies on the cost of education per leaner, however, all these studies were not approved by the previous Cabinet.

“The ministry, realising the importance of this exercise, resorted to putting together the formula which was used in one of the studies and came up with a hybrid study through the Planning Unit,” reads the report which was tabled by the portfolio committee chairperson MP Noah Gama.        
The minister said the hybrid study used a formula which addressed issues of pupil enrolment, curriculum used in that particular school as well as the location of the school.

Mabuza reported that the above three issues were the contributing factors to the cost of education. 
“As soon as the current Cabinet approves this study, the ministry shall present the study to the honourable members with the implementation plan,” further reads the report.


On the OVC issue, the minister said it was no longer under her ministry, but the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.
She said, however, the hybrid study to be presented to Cabinet also catered for the OVC pupils.

She said the approval of the hybrid study by Cabinet shall inform and influence all grants paid to schools by those involved in paying fees for learners.
“This means that even the OVC fund would increase with the application of the formula.”

The ministry said it was aware that the delayed disbursement of the FPE grants compromised the quality of education.
She said the ministry had also engaged the Treasury Department on the issue and hoped it would be resolved soon.


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