Budget 2017: Education gets biggest cut of the pie

Budget 2017: Education gets biggest cut of the pie

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has allocated R320.5 billion to education for the 2017/2018 financial year.

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Photo: Maryke Vermaak

Delivering his budget speech in Parliament, Gordhan said improvements have to begin in the foundation phase of the education 'value-chain'.

"We will continue to increase resources for early childhood development, improve our basic education outcomes and step up our support to TVET colleges and universities," says Gordhan.

Gordhan says spending on basic education next year will be over R240 billion, or 17.5 percent of the consolidated budget. 

Allocations for school building increase at 12.5 percent a year and spending on learning and teaching support materials increases by 9.5 percent over the next three years.

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Gordhan says government recognises the needs articulated by students in universities and TVET colleges.

"As the economy grows, we will be able to do more to finance an expansion in tertiary education opportunities and improvements in student funding," says Gordhan.

Gordhan says they have added a further R5 billion in the outer year of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) in addition to the increases of R32 billion we made in the higher education allocations in last year's Budget and the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

He says it is imperative that government develops a clear roadmap towards a better higher education and training system. 

"It must clearly indicate how society will achieve access, opportunity, financing and support for students in the university and further education sectors," says Gordhan.

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Gordhan says several broad principles will assist in finding the way forward:

- Government is determined to address the challenges identified in post-school education and training in a phased manner. Resources will be taken into account in determining the pace with which these can be addressed.

- Government stands ready to engage with education stakeholders and adapt financing arrangements as may be required in future years, within the scope of available resources.

- Universities, students and education stakeholders share responsibility for improving access and quality and the diversity of higher education and training provided, within a framework of consultation rather than confrontation.

-  A growing contribution is needed from employers and industry through funding of bursaries, internship opportunities and research programmes, recognising that this is the foundation of future productivity and technology advances

"Together, we will find a way forward that meets student funding needs fairly and sustainably, so that rising numbers of graduates can contribute positively to inclusive growth and transformation of the economy," says Gordhan.

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