South Africa: Education receives largest chunk of KZN budget

Pietermaritzburg – The Education Department will receive the lion’s share of the KwaZulu-Natal budget and the almost R4 billion increase will help fund the “no fee school” policy.

MEC for Finance, Ina Cronje, announced this during her budget speech earlier today. She said the department would now have over R32 billion at their disposal to promote quality basic education and create a skilled workforce.

The number of “no fee schools” has increased and the improved budget will make allowances for the running of these institutions.

“The number of no fee schools increased from 3 513 in 2009/10 to 4 747 in 2010/11, rendering close to 82 percent of the schools in KwaZulu-Natal no fee schools,” said Cronje

The money will also be used to address backlogs in the provision of classrooms, toilets, computer rooms, laboratories and media centres. With the increased funds, the national school nutrition programme will now be able to feed another million learners.

Approximately R72 million has been set aside for external bursaries and a further R19 million for internal purposes in the hope of improving skills of government employees.

The premier’s office will run programmes to support and develop young people through internships. One such programme will include the 366 youths that were trained under the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme. They will now work in the Youth Ambassador programme in the premier’s office.

The provincial healthcare system received the second highest share of the budget, increasing from over R22 billion to R24 billion.

With the rise in funds, the number of community care-givers is set to increase.

“Small KZN companies and rural women will be given an increasing share of market opportunities through the department’s procurement spend,” said Cronje with regards to the health budget allocation.

The Transport Department will continue to expand community-based labour intensive road construction and maintenance programmes. Their budget increased to over R7 billion from R6 million.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will create a number of jobs through the Corridor Development programme.

In Richmond, rehabilitation in the CBD will take place to create a shelter for informal traders and small businesses. Parts of Msinga and Ladysmith will also be upgraded and will benefit from the R1.1 billion budget.

The Environmental Affairs and Rural Development Department will continue job creation through their alien species eradication programme. “Approximately R100 million per annum has been budgeted for this programme over the 2011/12 MTEF,” said Cronje.

In addition, unemployed graduates will continue to be recruited by the department on a contract basis to expand the province’s food security process.

The Department of Public Works will use their allocated funds to also improve the efficiency of the Expanded Public Works Programme.

According to the budget presentation, a job creating initiative that gives contracts to indigent local communities to clear vacant government sites, will receive assistance from the R1.2 billion budget allocation.

Meanwhile, the Royal Household budget has also increased by R8 million – most of the funds are expected to be used to refurbish the royal residences to receive more international delegates.

Source – BuaNews – By Kemantha Govender