Equal Education (EE) welcomes the Minister of Basic Education’s continued commitment to improve the education system by providing poor learners with more access to schooling. This is shown by the South Africa’s investment in the education sector by R 179.8 billion (21% of government total allocated expenditure in this financial year). It is vital to see continued an increase in education expenditure at each budget speech.
The Budget Vote Speech identified infrastructure as one of the “strategic interventions” by the Department through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiate (ASIDI). In the 2011/12 financial year, a total Education Infrastructure Grant allocation was R5.49 billion. The Minister highlights that the total spending for this grant was 92% and much higher than the 2010/11 financial year.
However, what Minister Motshekga failed to mention is that the education infrastructure grant is going to be reduced. In terms of the 2012 Estimates of National Expenditure, “approved baseline cuts of R657.5million over the MTEF period has been made to the education infrastructure grant.” A note explains “as far as possible, [that] these reductions will be made on the administrative portion of these grants”.
The pace of eradicating inappropriate structures and mud schools is slow and we fear that ASIDI will not meet the 2014 deadline of eradicating all inappropriate structures. So far, in the 2011/2012 year, only 26 schools are ready to be handed over.
EE maintains that school infrastructure is a vital component of a basic education. EE has campaigned for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure for two years. Earlier this year EE launch a court case against Minister Motshekga seeking a court order forcing her to promulgate Minimum Norms and Standards.
The baseline cuts also applied to other conditional grants such as the Nutrition Programme, HIV and AIDS Lifeskills grant, Dinaledi Schools grant, Technical secondary recapitalisation grant.
We applaud the Minister’s commitment to provide no fee schools with school meals and transport. However, access to schooling for poor learners has been threatened by the crisis in Limpopo and Eastern Cape. In these provinces funds allocated to alleviate problems of access to schooling for poor learners have been mismanaged. Lack of capacity within provinces, corruption and mismanagement combined with weak government and leadership in education is a threat to access to education for many poor learners.
Whilst the Minister boasts about pro-poor policies and pro-poor budgeting, these threats and the indecisiveness of political and government leadership impedes on improvements and strides made in the system.
EE calls on government to:
- Build capacity within the Department of Education and eliminate corruption
- Build a department (both at national, provincial and at district level) that is more responsive to schools, parents and communities.
- Make sure that every learner receives at least their textbooks before or on the first day of school year.
- Ensure teachers arrive at school on time
- Call on our Minster and Department to act quickly and decisively in cases of emergency such as a breakdown/ crisis in provinces
- Set a standard for Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure
- Decrease the number of dropout rates from the schooling system by focusing on retaining learners in the FET band
For more information please contact Yoliswa Dwane on 072 342 7747