Business Maverick

BUDGET 2024

Boost for education sector — but half will be swallowed by salaries

Boost for education sector — but half will be swallowed by salaries
(Photo: Leila Dougan)

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana explained that the increase in the education budget was to accommodate R25.7bn in carry-through costs of the wage increase over the medium term.

The education budget will be fattened by more than R26-billion — more than half of which will go towards staff costs — but early childhood development will receive only a small portion of that allocation.

In the 2024/25 financial year, social services will receive R1.41-trillion from the state. Learning and culture will receive R480.6-billion of that allocation, with:

  • R303-billion going towards basic education;
  • R53.6-billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS);
  • R47.7-billion for university transfers;
  • R28.6-billion for skills development institutions;
  • R19.4-billion for education administration; and
  • R13.6-billion for technical and vocational education and training.

The standing committee on appropriations on the 2023 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement and Adjustments Appropriation Bill had recommended that the government should ensure that all qualifying students benefit from the NSFAS as this was an adopted policy of the government, so no student should be denied entry to tertiary institutions for lack of funding.

The NSFAS, which has been mired in controversy — most recently around irregularly appointed service providers — had asked for R146.9-billion over the next three years.

R271.9-billion will be allocated to health, R265.3-billion to community development, and R387.3-billion to social development.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana explained that the increase in the education budget was to accommodate R25.7-billion in carry-through costs of the wage increase over the medium term.

The Treasury has allocated R251.3-billion over the medium term to pay teachers, doctors, nurses, police and other public servants.

The budgets for basic education, health and the police are projected to grow in nominal annual average terms at 4.7%, 3.4% and 5.4%, respectively, over the next three years.

Learning and culture have been allotted 24.4% of the total Medium-Term Expenditure Framework allocation, with an average annual growth rate of 3.9% for basic education, while tertiary education gets 16.6% — a 4.7% increase.

Early childhood development is critically important in a child’s development because it lays the foundation for their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social wellbeing. The early years — from birth to around eight years old — are a period of rapid brain development and learning. This critical sector will receive just R1.59-billion this financial year, which will increase to R2.035-billion by 2026/27.

The early childhood development grant has been allocated R1.59-billion, rising by 6.8% over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.

The school nutrition programme, which provides food to vulnerable pupils in almost 20,000 schools, will receive R9.8-billion this financial year. DM

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