Centre for Early Childhood Development Comments on the 2010/11 Budget

Thursday, 18 February, 2010 - 12:56

While Minister Pravin Gordham has presented a budget that is probably “right for the time” it is however a very disappointing budget for poor children and their families. Most shocking is the miniscule increase in the Child Support Grant by R 10 per month to R 250 per child per month. This is an increase of 4.1 percent and will give each child one extra slice of bread per day. Phasing in the child support grant up to a child’s 18th birthday does not compensate for insignificant increase. It is clear that to do this the Minister deliberately kept the increase so low. Interestingly he did not say when this would happen.

Child Support Grant Increase Gives Poor Children One Extra Slice of Bread Per Day

While Minister Pravin Gordham has presented a budget that is probably “right for the time” it is however a very disappointing budget for poor children and their families. Most shocking is the miniscule increase in the Child Support Grant by R 10 per month to R 250 per child per month. This is an increase of 4.1 percent and will give each child one extra slice of bread per day. Phasing in the child support grant up to a child’s 18th birthday does not compensate for insignificant increase. It is clear that to do this the Minister deliberately kept the increase so low. Interestingly he did not say when this would happen.

The Minister started off by saying that he wanted “every family to have shelter and food”. This budget does not provide this. He said that it is critical “to address social and economic weaknesses” but he has not, and he said that he wants all South Africans “to share in the opportunities that our country offers” - but all South Africans do not.

To his credit he acknowledged that poverty is widespread but then presented a budget that does not tackle this.

On education and training we heard little that was new. Much of the extra R2.7 billion to be spent on workbooks for Grades 3, 6 and 9 will be wasted because of the lack of quality early childhood development opportunities for young children. Grades 3 and 6 is too little too late, the damage is already done. Grade R and early childhood development is not mentioned at all in the budget yet international research informs us that the greatest economic return on education investment is at this level.

His goal of better co-ordination and alignment between national policy imperatives and provincial budgets is welcomed in the light of the wide chasm that presently exists, especially in the education sector.

So what does this budget tell us. Ministers will continue to earn in excess of R1.5 million each year and will also continue to have two vehicles valued in the millions and receive heavily subsidised housing. On the other side of the line, young children will continue to go without quality education, without quality health care and without quality housing and their parents will still be without work, the very things that Minister Pravin Gordham wants them to have.

Eric Atmore
Director
Centre for Early Childhood Development

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