Equal Education (EE) and SECTION27 have called for more funds to be allocated to basic education in South Africa.
The national budget presented by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, shows an increase in the budget for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) over the next three years.
Development Diaries gathered that the DBE’s total expenditure is set to increase at an average annual rate of 7.2 percent from R23.4 billion.
About R8 billion has been allocated to the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) for 2021/22, and it is set to increase at 5 percent annually over the next three years.
However, SECTION27 said in a statement that analysis of estimates of national expenditure for basic education shows that funding will decrease per learner, in real terms, over the next three years because of inflation and increased enrolments in schools.
Also, EE said in a statement that since 2016, funding for education as a percentage of the total budget has decreased from almost 19 percent to around 15 percent.
‘[The] budget represents a continuation of concerning trends of underspending on basic education’, EE said.
The EE statement also said there will also be less money to pay teachers and other education staff over the next three years as the 2021 budget shows cuts of R254.8 million to the Funza Lushaka bursary for new teachers.
In total, cabinet has approved R1.6 billion worth of reductions to previously planned expenditure and conditional grants in the education sector over the next three years.
The supplementary budget, which was presented on 24 June 2020, showed that R1.7 billion was cut from the school infrastructure grants alone, and a further R4.4 billion re-prioritised within the grant to cover Covid-related expenses in schools.
In the latest budget, R36.7 billion is allocated towards the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) over the medium term, with the sector receiving R11.6 billion for this financial year.
‘The recovery of these funds, however, may not be enough to catch up on last year’s suspended and cancelled crucial infrastructure projects at schools’, SECTION27 noted.
Photo source: UNICEF