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Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre joint statement: Government’s austerity agenda puts children’s right to schooling in jeopardy

21 February 2024

Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre joint statement: Government’s austerity agenda puts children’s right to schooling in jeopardy

Today, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivered his budget speech, setting out government’s spending priorities for the 2024/25 financial year. Basic education was allocated R324.5 billion for the 2024/25 financial year, with additional money to cover teacher salaries. However, with the Cabinet-approved reductions of R2.8 billion over the medium term from various programmes, including the school infrastructure budget, the sector will once again have to tighten its purse strings.

Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) are concerned that National Treasury’s continued austerity budgeting—aggressive cuts to social spending—is a significant blow to the millions of poor and low-income households who are reliant on government services to realise their socio-economic rights, including the right to basic education. This education budget does not comply with government’s human rights obligations. 

National Treasury’s efforts to navigate South Africa’s “debt problem” continue to use a similar strategy to previous years, resorting to budget cuts and reprioritisation (austerity) to repay government debt. Treasury’s push in this direction will severely disrupt the provision of vital public services like basic education, and is a warning sign that human rights are increasingly just not a priority. EE and the EELC strongly oppose this renewed austerity agenda and call for Parliament to review its decision allowing for cuts to education funding, and for an immediate reversal of all cuts.

Read and download our full statement here.

Leanne Jansen-ThomasEqual Education and Equal Education Law Centre joint statement: Government’s austerity agenda puts children’s right to schooling in jeopardy