The largest portion of this year’s budget goes to education (some R140.4 billion). Special mention was made of capital expenditure to fix both schools and universities. For those working with poor communities we must welcome increased allocations for school feeding schemes and the building of more schools in poor areas.
More details will emerge once the Minister of Education presents her budget to parliament in the near future.
Whilst greater spend on maintaining and upgrading school buildings is to be welcomed it is far more important that we ask questions about what actually happens in those buildings.
Why are our children’s literacy and numeracy levels lower than poorer neighbouring countries? Why does the matric pass rate continue to drop? Why do most universities set their own entrance exams even for those who achieve university entrance? Why are school feeding schemes so poorly managed? Why do children drop out of school in such large numbers? Do FET colleges meet the needs of the economy? Have they lost their stigma of being second class to university? Do they prepare young people for real jobs in the real economy? Why do some children still learn under a tree? How do we improve teaching and learning in our schools? Why are authorities reluctant to take on teachers who abuse work time, sexually abuse children in their care and resist any type of monitoring?
These are all questions which the Minister of Finance cannot answer, but which Pandor and her team must.
Of special interest to me was the fact that no specific mention was made of the national literacy campaign - Kha Re Gude. Has it been shelved? Massive money was promised to eradicate illiteracy by 2012. Is it still on track with this most secretive of national campaigns?
So in short, yes, money matters but it is what the department does with the money that is far more critical.
Chief Executive Officer