Centre for Early Childhood Development Comments on the 2011/12 Budget

NGO Budget 2011
Thursday, 24 February, 2011 - 10:37

With a far better global economic climate this time around, Minister Pravin Gordhan could have done much better in his budget. Again the budget is very disappointing for poor children and their families

Another year, again only one extra slice of bread per day for our children
 
With a far better global economic climate this time around, Minister Pravin Gordhan could have done much better in his budget. Again the budget is very disappointing for poor children and their families. Most shocking is the miniscule 4% increase in the Child Support Grant (CSG), by R10 per month to R260 per child per month and then to R270 per month in October, and the 4.2% increase in the Foster care grant to R730 per month. The CSG increase will give each child only one extra slice of bread per day.
 
The Minister said government wanted to “reduce poverty” and that all South Africans aspire to “freedom from poverty” and “freedom from need”. This budget does not provide any of these. Proudly he said that the budget “…continues to expand spending on housing, rural development, better community services and social assistance grants… for children in need” - but it does no such thing. The small amounts allocated towards eradicating poverty are a disgrace.
 
During his speech the Minister quoted the late Chris Hani saying “We want to build a nation free from hunger, disease and poverty, free from ignorance, homelessness and humiliation…” But his budget does no such thing. Following this budget our young children will still grow up hungry, living in poverty, lacking quality education, being homelessness and with their basic human rights trampled on.
 
Education at 21% takes up the largest share of non-interest expenditure with increases for school infrastructure, teacher bursaries, further education and training colleges and skills development. This is to be commended but much of this will be wasted because of the lack of quality early childhood development funding and opportunities for young children.
 
The benefits of investing in the chosen areas are largely lost if young children enter the education system without the critical skills acquired in the preschool years. If children enter school without early literacy and numeracy skills and hungry they cannot perform and the investment is wasted. Grade R and early childhood development is not mentioned at all in the budget yet international research informs us that the greatest education, economic and social return is expenditure on education at this level.
 
The investment of R1.4 billion for improved district-based maternal and child health services is welcomed - but let us now get service delivery right.  Let no more babies die because a security guard, nurse or doctor turns the mother and child away.
 
So what does this budget tell us? Vast number of 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 Gordhan wants them to have.
 
Associate Professor Eric Atmore
Director
Centre for Early Childhood Development
www.cecd.org.za

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