SADTU statement on the 2018/2019 Basic Education Budget vote

10 May 2018

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) finds it hard to accept the 2018/2019 Basic Education Budget vote presented by Minister Angie Motshekga in parliament yesterday that has indicated a decline in the overall budget allocation for the basic education sector.

In her speech, the Minister confirmed our worst fears when she announced budget cuts on the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) and Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) that are meant to ensure that more school with proper toilets are built and mud schools are eliminated. The EIG and ASIDI are funded at R9,9 billion and R1,5billion respectively; this is a decrease of 1,3% and 43,5% respectively from the 2017/2018 allocations. Decreasing these grants will further rob many South African learners who are mainly black and from rural areas the right to be taught in dignified and safe learning environments.

The budget allocation for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has seen a 3% decrease from the 2017/2018 allocation due to austerity measures. It is just under R23billion. Although this budget presents a bleak picture, we would like to urge the DBE to use it wisely to ensure the delivery of quality public education.

We do not believe the increased allocation by 46% from last year to the National Senior Certificate Learner Retention Programme also known as the Second Chance Programme will improve quality public education. The programme allows Grade 12 learners who do not meet pass requirements to write their exams over two years. We urge the Department to stop obsessing about Grade 12 results but provide more resources to strengthen lower grades in order to ensure that learners have the required pass requirements when they reach Grade 12. We welcome the fact that the Minister has made it clear that improving the quality of learning and teaching as well as quality outcomes in the early Grades is one of the Department's strategic focus areas.

However, in the same vein, we are worried that the Department's focus is more on assessment than on strengthening the curriculum and teacher development in these Grades judging by the R11 million that has been allocated to Early Grade Reading Assessment which will increase by R28 million over the outer two years of the 2018 METF period.
We welcome the fact that DBE's other focus area is that of strengthening the curriculum content, quality and relevance in subject offerings such as History, Mathematics, Science and Technology and Agriculture; quality inclusive education and rural education. These subjects are crucial for the country's development.

We are also heartened to know that the Department is seriously considering taking over the core responsibility for the provision and monitoring of Early Childhood Development (ECD). We have long reiterated the fact that ECD should fall under the Department of Education and we echo the Minister's words that; "this is strategic to ensure that ECD from birth, becomes the foundation of the entire basic education system."

We further welcome the allocation of R29,2 million to the Rural Education Assistants Project which will see unemployed matriculants appointed as Education Assistants in curricular and co-curricular activities in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. This will take a huge load from teachers in these rural areas who receive little support as their schools do not have administration support staff. This will allow teachers to focus on their core function which is teaching.

It is unfortunate that the budget vote did not make any allocation for schools safety. We regard safety in schools as crucial towards the delivery of quality public education. Our schools are plagued by violence among learners, teacher attacks, abuse and gangsterism. We would like to see the DBE leading in ensuring safety in our schools and not allowing this matter to be in hands of the security cluster only.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

General Secretary,
Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary,
Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer,
Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157