17 February 2010
Education continues to receive the lion’s share of South Africa’s Budget, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announcing an allocation of R165-billion to the Basic Education and Higher Education departments for 2010/11 – an increase of more than R17-billion compared to the previous year.
A further R2.7-billion will be made available to help the Department of Basic Education tackle serious challenges in South Africa’s schooling system, including unacceptably low numeracy and literacy levels, inadequately trained teachers, poor management, and a lack of basic resources in poor schools.
Delivering his maiden Budget speech in Parliament, Cape Town on Wednesday, Gordhan said that while government spending needed to be kept in check, education remained the number one priority in the country’s fiscus.
The R2.7-billion would go towards the roll-out of workbooks in all 11 official languages to help raise literacy and numeracy levels in grades 3, 6 and 9. The workbooks would help teachers map out clear plans and guide effective use of the curriculum.
An annual R28-million is also being provided for national assessments of literacy and numeracy in grades 3, 6 and 9.
These assessments, announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address last week, will allow teachers and parents to intervene at the right time in students’ careers in order to improve their performance.
Spending by provincial education departments is also expected to grow by 8.1 percent per year to R162-billion over the next three years.
FET colleges, universities
Gordhan said the country’s Further Education and Training colleges would receive R12-billion in 2010/11, with a further R1.3-billion set aside to improve the salaries of educators in this sector over the next three years.
The government will use the R12-billion to promote higher training standards to meet the requirements of a changing economy, while addressing the lack of training in certain key areas.
South Africa’s lack of skilled labour is hampering the country’s economic growth, with twice as many students enrolled in universities as in vocational colleges – the reverse of what is the case in most developed countries.
Allocations to South Africa’s higher education institutions have grown from R7.1-billion in 2001/02 to R15.3-billion for 2010/11. An additional R1-billion is to be provided over the next three years to increase subsidies to universities, while R5.6-billion will go to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.