Radley Keys, MPP
DA Chief Whip KwaZulu-Natal Legislature
KWAZULU-NATAL’s education department appears unable to account for bursary funding for 12 326 FET bursary students during the 2008/2009/2010 financial years.
A parliamentary reply to the DA in the province by KZN Education MEC, Senzo Mchunu, shows that, according to the department, there were 32 084 learners who received bursaries worth R148 million through the department between 2008 and 2010. Yet the same reply reveals that 25 370 learners passed, dropped out or failed – leaving 12 326 learners unaccounted for. The DA followed up with a letter to the MEC on 30 January 2012 requesting an explanation for the discrepancy in figures. There has been no response to date.
The department’s parliamentary reply begs the questions – do these students even exist – or are they ghost students? Has the department carried out an audit to reconcile the number of bursaries awarded and the number of students who have attended FET colleges? Unless the MEC and his department can prove that these 12 000 odd students attended FET Colleges in this province then there is a huge problem.
The DA believes that the answers provided by the MEC indicate that the department doesn’t have a handle on the situation. Education is the only way out for so many young people. The department has a mandate to ensure that they are provided with the opportunity to learn and to ensure that much-needed funding for this purpose is not abused in any way.
The DA is committed to establishing the facts around this issue. If we do not hear from the MEC, we will be forced to refer this matter to the Auditor-General and request a full forensic investigation into the circumstances surrounding the awarding of bursaries in the province.