Cape Town – Basic education will receive an extra R143.8m in the medium-term budget for the 2016/17 financial year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.
Delivering his medium-term budget policy statement to Parliament, Gordhan said basic education is the largest item in the national budget.
“But the education system is not achieving the desired outcomes. Priorities for government in the years ahead include expanding access to and the quality of early childhood development, overcoming institutional weaknesses in basic education. Additional resources may be needed – and strong interventions to unblock institutional constraints are required,” Gordhan said.
At a media briefing ahead of the delivery of his medium-term budget, Gordhan suggested education should be looked at holistically. "We have to make choices, like putting more money into early childhood development and primary school education." Gordhan is of the view that more spending in early stages of education would increase students' chances of academic success later in their lives.
Expenditure on basic education has been revised to R228.4bn in 2016/17; it will increase by 7.1% in the medium-term expenditure framework to R244.8bn in 2018/19 and R280.6bn in 2019/20.
Education accounts for about 40% of public sector employment, and absorbs the largest share of provincial budgets. In the 2015/16 budget, R153.4bn or 78% of total provincial education expenditure went to employee compensation.
The Department of Basic Education plans to print and distribute about 180 million workbooks to schools over the next three years at a projected cost of R3.2bn.
In addition, through the school infrastructure backlogs grant, the department expects to replace 510 inappropriate and unsafe school facilities by 2018/19. Over the same period, the grant will fund water provision for 1 120 schools, sanitation for 741 schools and electricity for 916 schools.
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