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Equal Education calls on Godongwana not to cut education sector budget

'It is crucial the schooling system is given enough resources'

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana.
Finance minister Enoch Godongwana.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

Equal Education has called on finance minister Enoch Godongwana to stop cuts on the basic education budget as a number of schools still do not have enough water, electricity, classrooms, teachers, safe and dignified toilets.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana is expected to deliver his first budget speech on Wednesday.

Equal Education said Godongwana must ensure that enough money is given to education. 

Spokesperson of the lobby, Jay-Dee Cyster, said they will continue to fight for this, as a vital step for fixing the many challenges in public schools.

“As all learners return to classrooms full-time, it is crucial that the schooling system is given enough resources to ensure that this can happen safely. Too many learners are returning to schools that still do not have enough resources like water, safe and dignified toilets, electricity, classrooms, or teachers and this cannot continue,” Cyster said. 

She said a total of R1.7bn was cut from school infrastructure grants with another R4.4bn of grant money used for new Covid-19 costs in the sector. 

“This is part of the government’s decision to continue implementing austerity budgeting, which means cutting what the government spends on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable communities, in order to decrease its debt. However, for the government to fix our schools, it is not just more money that is needed. The department of basic education and provincial education departments are not efficiently and effectively spending the money that they do have. Money is lost through mismanagement, wasteful expenditure, or is simply underspent,” she said.

She said on today's budget speech, Equal Education is calling on minister Godongwana and National Treasury to reverse the cuts to the education sector that have been made over the last two years and ensure that funding for education at the very least keeps up with inflation.

Cyster said there is a need to speed up the signing into law of the Draft Public Procurement Bill to help fight corruption and mismanagement in the building of school infrastructure.

“The minister and the National Treasury need to ensure that there are accessible ways for school communities to report wrongdoing with school building projects. They should also ensure that the national school nutrition programme is given enough money to ensure that learners in all qualifying schools have access to school meals,” Cyster said. 

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