Department Budget: briefing

Basic Education

14 March 2005
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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 MARCH 2005

DEPARTMENT BUDGET: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Professor S Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department PowerPoint presentation on budget 2005/06

SUMMARY:
The Department briefed the Committee on its 2005/06 budget and responded to Members’ questions about specific allocations for their main programmes. The Committee questioned expenses on the new administration building, the seeming inadequate numbers of career guidance teachers, and the cost of the National Teacher Awards.

MINUTES

Department briefing
Mr P Benade, Department Chief Financial Officer, presented an overview of the budget from 1998/99 to the projected numbers for 2007/08. In total, the 1998/99 budget was R6 496 million; the 2005/06 budget was R12 397 million (a 3.8% real increase from the previous year) and the budget for 2007/08 was projected as R14 536 million. Transfer payments to higher education institutions and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for 2005/06 were R10 763 million, an increase of 3.5% from the previous year. The increase in higher education payments for the previous three years was largely because of the rising inflation rate, which was now approximately 5%. The Department’s operational funds, the expenditures excluding those for higher education institutions and NSFAS, had totalled R1 634 million in 2005/06. Of this figure, R918 million was allocated to the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and approximately R142 million was allocated to HIV/AIDS programmes.

Department programme budgets for 2005/06 included:
-Administration, including the construction of a new Department building - R120 million.
-Planning and Monitoring, including the Education and Management Information System (EMIS) that collects and manages data from schools - R40 million.
-General Education, including an HIV/AIDS grant and the Revised National Curriculum Statement for teachers of English as a second language and indigenous languages - R231 million.
-Further Education and Training, including support for Cuban teachers of mathematics and science - R212 million.
-Quality Promotion and Development, including the NSNP. Allocation was R931 million.
-Higher Education, including transfer payments to higher education institutions and NSFAS - R10 810 million.
-Auxiliary and Associated Services, including provincial support and co-ordination initiatives - R32 million.

Discussion
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked if another briefing could be held with the Minister of Education. The Chairperson responded that the timeframe would not allow it.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) said he had visited 28 schools when they re-opened in January, and of those 18 had no career guidance teachers. He asked if this was a matter of budget constraints.

Ms H Zille (DA) asked why the Department’s budget had increased at such a high rate; why the further education and training budget had increased threefold in 2005/06, and whether it was wise for the General Education and Training Board to be implemented at the grade nine level.

Mr Benade responded that the employment of guidance teachers was a high priority along with support staff in general, but that the amount available for salaries was limited. The Department’s administrative budget increase was largely due to the construction of a new Department building. The old building was past use and it was cheaper to build a new building than to renovate the old one.

Mr A Gaum (NNP) supported the construction of a new building and agreed that it was cheaper than trying to remain in the old building.

Ms Zille said that the construction of a new building was not a wise decision, given the other educational needs in underdeveloped areas. With some students learning under trees, it was not correct for the Department to spend money on a new building for administrative purposes.

Mr L Greyling (ID) asked about the Department’s handling of the issue of literacy. Mr Benade responded that the Minister had expressed concerns about literacy and that teachers were being trained to produce outcomes-based education, starting with the lower grades.

Ms P Mashangoane (ANC) questioned the Department’s Education and Management Governance Development (EMGD) projects that distributed information about admissions through radio and television, newspapers, social grant pay slips and SMS messages. Many low-income people could not access these resources and multipurpose community centres should also receive the information. She asked when the capacity-building of provincial officials for the National Teacher Awards was expected to take place.

The Chairperson said that the Department was not expected to explain a strategic plan, as it was strictly a budget presentation.

Mr Greyling said that, for the Department to reduce the backlogs in school infrastructure, it would need R20 billion in funds. The budget figures showed that it was not possible to secure this amount.

Mr Benade did not have the exact figure for the number of teachers who needed upgraded qualifications, but knew that the number had decreased dramatically over the past ten years. The National Teacher Awards usually cost between R5 and 7 million, but funding was often donated.

The Committee adopted the Committee Secretary’s minutes of 16 November, 8 February, and 15 February with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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