Latest News

EDUCATION BUDGET SPEECH IGNORES CHALLENGES IN THE SECTOR

We appreciate the Minister’s efforts in ensuring increased access to basic education, particularly to poor learners.  However, we would like to raise these concerns; funding for Norms and Standards, reductions on infrastructure grants, and provinces under administration.

 

NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE

 

EE welcomed the adoption of the Norms and Standards by the Minister of Basic Education.  We believe that the adoption of these legally binding Norms and Standards is a step in the right direction to providing learners with an adequate learning environment that will improve learner outcomes.

 

However, EE is concerned that in her 2014 Budget Vote Speech, the Minister of Basic Education, did not address how the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure will impact the education budget and what allocations would be made for the implementation of the Norms and Standards; particularly taking into account the stipulated timeframes.

 

In a recent briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) did not speak about the provincial implementation plans due in November 2014, as stipulated in the regulations, nor how funds will be allocated for the implementation of these plans.

 

ACCELERATED SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY INITIATIVE

 

EE applauds the progress that has been made over the past year in the increase of the number of schools constructed through ASIDI. However, the pace of eradicating inappropriate structures through ASIDI has been slow and has resulted in the extension of the grant from a 3- year period to five years.

 

Over the years, National Treasury has been reducing the funds allocated to the programme. EE finds it worrisome that Minster of Basic Education did not mention these details in her 2014 budget vote speech or much detail on ASIDI in general.  The reductions are illustrated in the table below:

 

 

Financial Year     Actual allocation      Estimates

2011/12                R700 000’

2012/13                                                      R2 315 000’

2013/14                                                      R5 189 000’

Financial Year     Actual Allocation    Estimates

2012/13               R2 315 000’

2013/14                                                   R5 189 000’

2014/15                                                   R5 500 300’

 

Financial Year      Actual allocation      Estimates

2013/14                R1 955 981’

2014/15                                                    R3 169 503’

2015/16                                                    R2 912 310’

 

 

Financial Year      Actual Allocation     Estimated

2014/15                R 2 938 503’

2015/16                                                   R2 433 310’

2016/17                                                   R2 610 662’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These budget allocations and targets, set by National Treasury for the 2014/15 and 2016/17 financial years, are not in line with the Department of Basic Education’s broad commitment of eradicating all inappropriate schools by 2016/17.  The 2014 Estimates for National Expenditure report, states that, “R1.2 billion over the medium term has been reduced from spending on the school infrastructure backlogs grant and R1.4 billion over the medium term has been reduced from the education infrastructure grant. The reductions to the school infrastructure grant align this allocation more closely with the ability of the sector to deliver school infrastructure and extend the deadline for addressing the school infrastructure backlog by one year, from 2015/16 to 2016/17.”

 

These reductions have occurred due to the fact that ASIDI has been riddled with delays, as well as severe under-expenditure.  In its 2011/12 Annual report the DBE stated that it had spent approximately R76 million of R700 million it had available to eradicate inappropriate structures and provide basic services.  This was under-expenditure of around R624 million. A similar situation occurred in 2012/13 when the DBE failed to utilize its entire R2,3 billion budget.  This resulted in Treasury disallowing roll-overs and reducing allocations.

 

Despite the slow progress made on ASIDI, Equal Education does not believe that a reduction in funds is beneficial.  In fact, this could be detrimental to the millions of learners who do not have access to decent school infrastructure.  Unless the DBE starts to improve drastically on its performance and delivery, many learners will be taught under deplorable conditions.

 

SECTION 100(1)(B) INTERVENTIONS IN THE EASTERN CAPE AND LIMPOPO

 

EE supports the interventions by the national government in provinces where provincial government fails to deliver due to incapacity, but we have concerns on the progress and manner of implementation. EE finds it peculiar that the Minister did not mention the interventions or how they are progressing in these two provinces, in her speech.  In fact, there has been very little reporting by the Department, to Parliament, on the Section 100(1)(b) interventions in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.  EE calls for the Minister to ensure that regular reporting on these interventions takes place in both Cabinet and Parliament, and that information is made publically available.

 

Section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution empowers national government to intervene in the administration of provincial departments as it has done in the Eastern Cape in 2011 and in Limpopo in 2012.  From the scant information that has been made available by the DBE, EE can ascertain that some aspects of the Section 100(1)(b) interventions have resulted in some progress.  The Eastern Cape, in particular, saw a turn-about when it received its first qualified audit since democracy in the 2012/13 financial year. However, after three years, substantive problems remain in scholar transport, teacher provisioning and the chronic shortage of teachers in some schools, poor infrastructure and learner performance.

 

For comment

Yoliswa Dwane: Head of Policy, Communications and Research

076 706 2338

Hopolang Selebalo: Parliamentary Office

074 261 1672

Nombulelo Nyathela: Spokesperson

060 503 4933

Carla GoldsteinEDUCATION BUDGET SPEECH IGNORES CHALLENGES IN THE SECTOR