South Africa: Limpopo Schools Face an Impossible Choice - Sanitiser v Basic Necessities


A lack of additional Covid-19 funding means that public school principals and governing bodies are being forced to perform a financial juggling act with potentially deadly consequences.

In the middle of May, public schools in Limpopo received two circulars from the provincial Department of Education. The circulars instructed schools to restructure their budgets to cater for the additional needs created by Covid-19.

In so doing, both the province and the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) have forced principals and school governing bodies to make impossible decisions in the context of this pandemic - either buy sufficient sanitising materials to keep classrooms properly clean, or use allocated funds to purchase basic necessities such as stationery, toilet paper and electricity. In many cases, there is simply not enough money for schools to do both.

What is the school operational allocation?

Public schools in South Africa are divided into five groups, or quintiles, in order to facilitate a pro-poor distribution of resources in non-personnel expenditure. Roughly speaking, a school's quintile indicates the wealth levels of the community in which a school is placed. Schools in quintiles 1, 2 and 3 are situated in communities so poor that they are free of fees....

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