25 June 2020
Joint statement on supplementary budget: Activists lament the lack of additional funding to Basic Education sector, concerned COVID-19 mitigation measures come at expense of long-term infrastructure needs
Despite the education sector facing new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the supplementary budget, tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on 24 June did not provide additional funding to the basic education sector, opting to roll back key programmes to fund COVID-19 costs.
- R2.1 billion has now been cut from the National Department of Basic Education’s budget. Some funding that was previously allocated to longer-term projects like support for maths, science and technology and for learners with profound intellectual disabilities, has been cut.
- A net total of R1.7 billion has been cut from school infrastructure grants alone, and a further R4.4 billion has been reallocated from these grants to cover COVID-19 expenditure needs. It is astonishing that in a moment which has highlighted the painful consequences of government’s failure to provide schools with adequate infrastructure and basic services such as clean water and safe toilets, school infrastructure funding has been further reduced.
- No new funds have been allocated to the National School Nutrition Programme. R50 million has been reprioritised within the programme to fund emergency hygiene measures. This is a missed opportunity to boost a programme that reaches millions of learners and, by extension, their families, and could therefore be expanded to assist in meeting escalating food relief needs.
We are extremely concerned about the outlook for basic education now and in the long-term. The right to basic education is immediately realisable by law, and the sector serves millions of children every day. But despite facing demonstrable funding shortfalls before the COVID-19 crisis, basic education has not been provided with new funds to cope with COVID-19. This is symptomatic of government’s commitment to austerity budgeting despite a massive socio-economic crisis. Cuts to education funding will have an impact on the right to basic education and equality for learners across the country for years to come.
Read our full statement here.