Education gets a whopping R190 billion

Education received the largest chunk of social spending, sitting at R190 billion this year to 215 billion in 2013/14, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed in his budget speech on Wednesday.
Gordhan said education makes up 21 percent of the government’s total expenditure in terms of non-interest allocations and was the largest receiver of the additional allocations.
The National Revenue Fund of R889 billion is provided for in 2011/12, which is 9.8 per cent more than the revised estimate for 2010/11. Consolidated expenditure is projected to increase from R897 billion in 2010/11 to R1.2trillion in 2013/14, with non-interest spending on public services growing by an average of 8 per cent a year.
Education policy analyst Graeme Bloch said it was not surprising that education received the lion’s share of the budget.”This is as it should be as education is the number one national priority and the best route out of poverty for individuals and the country.Nonetheless, the issue is the effective use of the funds, thus proper systems of monitoring and accountability. How will teachers, officials, principals and learners deliver on their promises and responsibilities?” Bloch asked.
The government has added R8.3 billion for school infrastructure. About R1 billion would be added for the funza lushaka teacher bursaries and bursaries for postgraduate students in natural sciences. R9.5billion would be put aside for expanding further education and training colleges and skills development.Bloch said South Africa needed a concrete plan to address infrastructure backlogs. “We need proper norms and standards and a detailed plan for libraries, labs, staffrooms and so on. We need to hear the voices of young people, learners and their parents to ensure funds are properly spent and government officials do their jobs,” he said.
The government has increased spending by 16 percent over the past two years. Education experts and policy analysts, however, argue that it is not so much about the quantum of the budget allocated on education, but how it is spent.
The 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. Gordhan said this was mainly due to growth in compensation of employees. The Basic Education Department has put aside R8.2 billion to replace about 3 627 identified informal and unsafe schools structures. The large chunk of the money will go to the rural Eastern Cape to address the lack of proper classrooms.
A total of R24.3 billion will be set aside for education and skills spending over the next three years. Gordhan said all government departments were required to cut their spending by 0.3 percent in order to provide additional funding of R6 billion to the National Student Finance Aid Scheme. “I want to place on record our appreciation to Cabinet colleagues and departmental accounting officers for their co-operation,” he said.
Further Education and Training (FET) colleges are allocated over R14 billion for this year.  This money would enable government to increase enrolment from about 198,000 in 2010, to 315,000 in 2011.
State bursary scheme for FET college students would increase to R5 billion over the next three years, including an additional R3.9 billion to enable an additional 120,600 poor learners to access college opportunities.

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