Education will be given deserved attention in the 2016 as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the 2016 budget is set to prioritise education and infrastructure investment.
While delivering the 2016 Budget speech on Wednesday, Finance Minister Gordhan said
“Higher education has been allocated an additional R16.3 billion over the next three years which is funded through re-prioritisation of expenditure plans.”
“R5.7 billion of this amount will addresses the shortfall caused by keeping fees for 2016 academic year at 2015 levels, and the carry-through costs over the MTEF period.”
In addition, a total of R54 billion has also been allocated on education infrastructure.
The Finance Minister added that government continues to improve the quality of education with R2.5 billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to clear outstanding student debt, plus a further R8 billion over the medium term to enable current students to complete their studies.
“Basic education and early childhood education – Our expenditure on basic education will increase from R204 billion this year, to R254 billion in 2018/19. By 2018, 510 inappropriate and unsafe schools will be rebuilt, 1 120 schools will be supplied with water and 916 schools with electricity.
“An additional allocation of R813 million for early childhood development is proposed to increase the number of children in ECD centres by 104,000 over the MTEF period,” Gordhan said.
To complement the finance Minister’s claims is President Jacob Zuma’s SONA where he said government is investing in education more than any other item in the budget because it remains an apex priority.
“To date‚ government spends 1.8 billion rand on early childhood development for children up to the age of four‚ reaching more than a million children.”
Up to 136 schools have been built through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).
“A further five hundred and seventy-one schools were provided with water. Four hundred and ten schools were given decent sanitation and two hundred and ninety-four schools were provided with electricity,” he said.
Going back to the 2015 budget speech, former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said:
“Over R640 billion will be allocated to basic education during the next three years. Under Minister Motshekga’s oversight, personnel planning for schools is currently under review, to ensure that learner-teacher ratios are maintained at appropriate levels”.
The accumulated work on school infrastructure programme is allocated R7.4 billion to take care of the replacement of over 500 unsafe or poorly constructed schools, as well as to address water, sanitation and electricity needs in the schools. Nene did not leave the universities out of the picture.
The prioritization of education in the 2016 budget is a step in the right direction which gives hope to our dilapidated and rickety schools and improves the quality of education.