THE KwaZulu-Natal department of education is concerned about the poor results obtained by pupils in public schools during the first quarter of this year.
The gloomy picture emerged after an assessment conducted by the department recently.
Department of education MEC Senzo Mchunu expressed concern when he addressed the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on his department's R24,609billion budget allocation for the 2009-2010 financial year.
Mchunu said on Tuesday that a lot of hard work was needed to improve on last year's matric pass rate.
He said the department was doing everything possible to ensure that this year's results improved.
"More intensive work is required to improve the current situation," he said.
The department has set aside R2,4million to help schools that attained below 50percent passes in last year's National Senior Certificate examinations.
The funds will be used to provide critical resources to to support pupil assessment to turn poor performing schools around. The funds will also help monitor teacher and pupil attendance.
Last year, the pass rate was below 60percent with poor performance in Maths and agricultural science.
But there was a remarkable improvement in languages, especially English.
Mchunu however, disappointed unions who had been hoping to see more being done to ensure safety and security at schools.
They were hoping that Mchunu would prioritise the deployment of security guards at all schools.
But Mchunu did not hint on any cash allocation to deploy more guards at schools.
Instead, he referred to the existing 2890 security guards that are employed and deployed to high-risk schools from the 2008-2009-budget allocation.
"All schools should have functional safety committees and they are encouraged to work in close collaboration with the South African Police Services," he said.
The good news for parents is that an additional 131 schools will be declared "no-fee schools", bringing the total number of "no-fee schools" in the province to 3513.
A total of R68million has been allocated to the Masifundisane Campaign to help in the eradication of illiteracy in the province. The campaign will benefit 80000 adult students.