SA: Education department welcomes budget increase

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene

By- SAnews.gov.za

The Department of Basic Education has welcomed the increase in the funds allocated to education by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in the 2015 Budget.

“This 8% increase to R276.7 billion in the allocation for education reinforces this government’s commitment to education as its apex priority,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

She said the budget allocation will help the Basic Education Department greatly towards achieving the goals set out in its action plan of improving quality and efficiency across the entire system.

“It will go a long way to improve school infrastructure, the connectivity of schools as we progress towards the idea of the 21st century classroom, continued teacher development as well as improve the supply of learner teacher support material (LTSM) among others,” said Minister Motshekga.

Minister Nene’s budget committed to more than R7 billion over the next three years to replace infrastructure in 510 schools and to provide water to 1 120 schools, sanitation to 741 and electricity to 916 schools.

“We welcome the announcement by Minister Nene that all school building plans will be standardised and the cost of construction will be controlled by the office of the chief procurement officer.

“This has been a concern raised and we are satisfied this measure will go a long way to allay some concerns around the costs of building new schools. It will also promote equality across the system,” said Minister Motshekga.

Minister Motshekga supports Minister Nene’s view that “too often and for too long, we have paid too much for school building projects”.

She said the advancements that are needed in the education system unfortunately carry an enormous financial burden.

The Minister said the continued commitment of all government departments to education as a tipping point towards transformation in all areas of society is evident.

“… This budget makes the education goals outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) an attainable reality,” said Minister Motshekga.

Other measures to be in place for schools over three years include:

  • printing and distributing 170 million workbooks at 23 562 schools;
  • each pupil in Grades R to 9 will receive two books per subject each year in key subjects;
  • R4.1 billion to build and support public libraries; and
  • R1.1 billion for broadband connectivity in government institutions and schools.

Minister Nene also supported the central procurement of LTSM and mentioned that in a bid to tighten up financial management and prevent corruption, all books delivered to schools next year will be managed through a centrally negotiated contract.

The department further said the number of qualified teachers entering the public service is set to increase to 10 200 by 2017/18, up from 7 227 in 2012/13.

“To support teacher training, R3.1 billion will be awarded in Funza Lushaka bursary schemes over the next three years,” the department said.