22 February 2012
South Africa’s spending on education continues to grow, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocating R207-billion to the sector for 2012/13, with projections that this may rise to up to R236-billion over the next three years.
Delivering his Budget speech in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Gordhan said provincial education spending was expected to grow by 5.9% over the next three years, from R169.9-billion this year to R183.8-billion in 2015.
Learner subsidies for no-fee schools
The government will further spend over R18-billion of the money towards boosting learner subsidies for no-fee schools and expanded access to Grade R.
South Africa’s education authorities say learner performance in literacy and numeracy remains a challenge, as shown by the national assessment of grade 3 and 6 learners conducted last year.
The assessments identified problem areas in each school and allowed for tailored interventions to be made, with R235-million set aside in the Budget for this purpose.
R850-million for university infrastructure
About R850-million has been set aside towards improving the country’s university infrastructure, including student accommodation facilities.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which has helped poor students at tertiary institutions with loans, will receive more than R17-billion over the next three years.
A Green Paper on Higher Education, released earlier this year, includes commitments by the government to build two new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape to address the challenge of space at the country’s tertiary institutions.
While he made no mention of the project in his speech today, Gordhan did tell reporters earlier that work was currently at an advanced stage, pointing out that R300-million was provided in the fiscus for planning and design of the universities. Further financial commitments will be made as the projects get off the ground.
Early childhood development programmes
A further R1.4-billion will be spent over the next three years to support early childhood development programmes and the implementation of the community-based childcare and protection programme across the country.
This will increase access to early childhood development from the current 500 000 to 580 000 children, with a focus on rural areas, with expectations that more than 10 000 young people will be employed as a result of the programme.