SADTU on the Medium Term Budget Policy statement

27 October 2016

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union welcomes the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement presented by Finance Minister in difficult economic and political conditions not only in the country but world-wide.

We welcome the fact that in the light of falling revenues, the government is still committed to financing the country`s main priorities - education, health, social services and infrastructure.

We welcome the undertakings and commitments to the following:

On tertiary education:

  • In addition to the R15 billion added to higher education funding in the February budget, the Department proposed a further R9billion for the Nation Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)
  • Over R8billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes up to R600.000
  • To increase the number of qualified teachers by awarding 39 000 Funza Lushaka bursaries to prospective teachers over the medium term.
  • Government is working to expand post-school education and training to produce a large pool of mid-to-high level skills as envisioned in the National Development Plan. Improving learner throughput rates by developing teaching and learning support plans for TVET colleges as a priority.
  • Training for artisans will be expanded and community education and training will receive support

We know this is way below the expectations of the thousands of students in tertiary institutions who are calling for free education. We are aware that the matter of free education cannot be realised by government alone, we support the Minister`s call to business to also come to the fore and lend a hand. We are calling on government to expedite the process towards finalising a law on Wealth Tax, to allow the wealthy, who are primary beneficiaries of our education system to pay for quality, public and free education. The government cannot just make a call to business, the government must legislate education tax on the corporate and the wealthy.

On school infrastructure backlogs:

  • A school infrastructure backlogs grant will be used to replace 510 inappropriate and unsafe school facilities to be replaced;
  • Water will be provided to 1 120 schools
  • Sanitation will be provided for 741 schools
  • Electricity will be provided for 916 schools

On social services:

  • The increase by R10 of old-age, disability and care dependency grants which was to come into effect in October, has also been extended to child support grant.
  • A new conditional grant to support the employment of social worker graduates from the national scholarship programme
  • A second conditional grand to expand Early Childhood Development services and the maintenance of related infrastructure

As we welcome all above, we are however concerned about the manner in which the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement has treated public sector employees as it seeks to suggest that the 2015 public sector wage settlement is limiting the availability of funds for crucial public services. It further reads that if public-sector workers and government are able to reach a balanced agreement on wages and productivity when the agreement expires in March 2018, this would allow departments to plan for additional staff and make resources available to fund new policy priorities.

We would like to remind the Minister that government is elected by the people of South Africa and must not allow the IMF, World Bank and rating agencies to replace the process of collective bargaining. The government must come to the PSCBC and table whatever proposal they have about these important issues. The Treasury must respect the current collective bargaining processes and stop this arbitrary posture it has adopted emboldened by those who are only interested in liquidating the process of collective bargaining namely the rating agencies.

As a union in the public sector representing teachers and workers in the education sector, we believe the 2015 settlement was not made out of greed but it had to meet some of the concerns of our members. We cannot wait until April 2018 before we can get additional staff and more resources. Our resources are stretched to the limit as the Post Provisioning Model continues to subject teachers to overcrowded classes and we have instances of teachers not getting paid for months. This has untold effects to the wellbeing of teachers and to the provision of quality education.

Early Childhood development remains a cornerstone of any successful education system. The country will have to direct enough funding to create a conducive environment wherein all our children, in particular for those from poor and working class families to also access quality early childhood development . This will improve the chances of all our children to progress and develop their full potential.

We are happy to note that the matric exams started smoothly with little challenges yesterday. We call on all matriculants to focus and dedicate these last few days to realise their dreams of getting a matric certificate. We know their teachers have done enough in the twelve years to prepare them for this moment. We wish them good luck.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157