South Africa: Big spending on education continues

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 23 Feb 2011
Title: Big spending on education continues

By Chris Bathembu

Cape Town - Spending on education has once again remained high on government's priorities with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday announcing an allocation of more than R189 billion to the sector, up by 9.7 percent as compared to last year.

Delivering his Budget Speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Gordhan also announced an allocation of R8.3 billion for the Department of Basic Education to be used to address the challenge of school infrastructure while R1 billon goes to the funza lushaka teacher bursaries and bursaries for top students in natural science.

He said more than R24 billion will be added to education and skills spending over the next three years and this is expected to rise from R190 billion next year to R215 billion in 2014.

Improving education in South Africa has been among a list of government's top priorities with President Jacob Zuma earlier this month announcing the triple T concept for Basic Education. The three Ts, he said, were motivated by his administration's desire to see teachers and textbooks being at schools on time and teachers in class on time teaching for at least seven hours a day.

But the backlogs in infrastructure such as mud schools in some provinces, low levels of achievements in literacy, mathematics and science and insufficient number of qualified teachers, have been among the challenges the government has been battling to address.

This is despite a 16 percent increase in spending in education and skills development over the past two years. Government says provincial education spending is expected to grow by 6.5 percent over the medium term from R143.2 billion this year to R171.2 billion in 2014, mainly due to growth in compensation of employees.

The R8.2 billion windfall will enable the Basic Education Department to replace about 3 627 identified informal and unsafe schools structures. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshegka said a large chunk of the money will go to the Eastern Cape to address the lack of proper classrooms there. More than R75 million will go towards strengthening oversight, monitoring and evaluation.

The national assessments in literacy and numeracy, announced by Zuma last year, for all Grades 3, 6 and 9 pupils will also be conducted in all schools this year and more than 6.6 million learners have been budgeted for.

Published on: 2011-02-23

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