BHISHO has flushed thousands of “ghost pupils” out of the education system, saving R60-million this year.
This was revealed by Education MEC Mandla Makupula at the Bhisho legislature recently.
The department embarked on a process to get schools to verify identity documents, passports and study permit numbers.
Makupula said the aim was to ensure resources were directed to where they were needed most.
There are more than 5 000 schools in the Eastern Cape and to date, more than 30 000 ghost pupils have been picked up through the verification process.
These include 24 571 pupils in Grade R, 961 at special schools and 5 292 at independent schools.
“We are cleaning the system. By the end of last year, we issued circulars to schools saying resources will be withheld for children without IDs,” Makupula said.
“Principals have been economical with the truth,” he said, adding that principals were required to produce a valid ID for each pupil.
“For all these years we’ve been lenient. We said [this time] the best strategy of defence is to be on the offensive.
“By the time the first tranche was released to schools in April, we had R60million [in savings].”
Makupula, however, warned that the amount could be reduced if affected schools submitted valid IDs.
The MEC said a lot of dodgy information had started to surface after the department had resolved to take a tough stance against schools.
In one case, the department found information at primary schools of pupils who were born in 1964, and 99 000 duplicate IDs of pupils appearing at different schools.
Makupula said principals were required to produce transfer letters, together with IDs, to ascertain the identity of pupils where duplication occurred.
Eastern Cape Education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the verification process was ongoing.
He said the department had not decided on what action to take against implicated principals.
The department was working closely with the Department of Home Affairs, SA Social Services and the police. Eastern Cape education portfolio committee chairman Fundile Gade said there was an urgent need for a rescue plan to revamp the education system.
Source: Herald Live