Equal Education welcomes the education-related aspects of Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2014 Budget Speech

Home | Equal Education welcomes the education-related aspects of Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2014 Budget Speech

Equal Education welcomes the education-related aspects of Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2014 Budget Speech, particularly additional allocations of R213 million, in 2014/15, and R67 million, in 2015/16, for the new conditional grant for occupation specific dispensation for therapists in education.

Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative

In the 2014 Estimates for National Expenditure, National Treasury states that “The department is committed to providing safe drinking water, hygienic and sufficient toilet facilities and electricity, and for all inappropriate structures to be eradicated by 2016/17, in line with the National Development Plan’s objective that all schools meet minimum infrastructure standards for sanitation, classrooms, and libraries by 2016. 433 schools are set to be built over the MTEF period through the accelerated school infrastructure delivery initiative, which is funded by the school infrastructure backlogs grant.”

The Department of Basic Education was given the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant by National Treasury to eradicate 496 inappropriate structures (including mud schools), provide 1257 schools with water, 878 schools with electricity and 868 schools with sanitation in various provinces.  The initiative was allocated R8.204 billion over a three year period from 2011. The DBE earmarked 49 inappropriate structures to eradicate and replace in 2011/12, 100 in 2012/13 and 346 in 2013/14.  However, to date, only 44 of the 49 mud schools from the first year have been eradicated and rebuilt.  In his 2013 Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance stated that, due to delays in the implementation of the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant- commonly known as ASIDI- the timelines for completion would be shifted from a 3-year period to five years.  The Department seems to be slowly improving, as they told the Members of the Standing Committee on Appropriations that along with the 6 remaining schools from the from the first batch, 51 additional schools are being built in the Eastern Cape currently.

The ASIDI grant has not only been compromised by delays, but severe under-expenditure too.  In its 2011/2012 Annual Report the DBE stated that it had spent approximately R76 million of the R700 million it had available to eradicate mud schools and provide basic services. This was under-expenditure of around R624 million.  There has been an upward trend in spending over the years, with the Department claiming to have spent 51% of its R2.4 billion budget by the end of January 2014. 

However, over the years, National Treasury has been reducing the funds allocated to the Programme. EE finds it worrisome that the Minister of Finance did not mention the details on school infrastructure in his speech and the reductions that are detailed in the Estimates of National Expenditure and Division of Revenue Bill 2012- 14.  The reductions are illustrated in the table below.


Financial Year  Actual allocation  Estimates[1]  Financial Year Actual Allocation Estimates
2011/12    R700 000’[2]   2012/13  R2 315 000’  
2012/13     R2 315 000’ 2013/14        R5 189 000
2013/14     R5 189 000’ 2014/15     R5 500 300’
Financial Year  Actual allocation  Estimates Financial Year Actual Allocation Estimates
2013/14   R1 955 981’   2014/15  R 2 938 503’  
2014/15   R3 169 503’ 2015/16   R2 433 310’
2015/16   R2 912 310’ 2016/17   R2 610 662’


Budget allocations and targets set by National Treasury  for the 2014/15 and 2016/17 financial years are not in line with the Department’s broad commitment of eradicating all inappropriate schools within two years, as  stipulated by the Minister of Finance.  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.” 

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.  Inadequate school infrastructure led to the death of a young learner in Limpopo, when he fell into a pit latrine.  The issue around the lack of capacity within the DBE needs to be addressed urgently, in order to improve the construction and delivery of schools.  Taking away funds from the programme does not address the challenge of capacity constraints.

We demand that government improve capacity in provinces as well as the National Department of Basic Education in the spending of infrastructure budgets. This will require a collaborative approach- where national treasury works closely together with the DBE and provincial departments of education.

Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure

Equal Education is also concerned that Minister Gordhan did not speak on how the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure will impact the budget and what allocations had been made for the implementation of the Regulations, taking into account the stipulated timeframes.

For Comment

Yoliswa Dwane:  076 706 2338

Hopolang Selebalo:  074 261 1672


[1] Projection of allocations over a two-year period

[2] ‘000