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Education a top priority for govt

Written by Samona Naidu
The Department of Basic Education wants to see more South African children in school, learning and developing into successful young people who will contribute the country’s growth.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says government is committed to extending the reach of country’s education system.Delivering her Budget Vote, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the country had made progress in making quality education available to South Africans.

She also announced that a legislative review to make schooling compulsory for five to 15 year olds was on the cards.

The department’s budget for 2014/2015 stands at R19.6 billion, which is a more than R2 billion increase from last year.

“This once again reaffirms government’s commitment to education,” said the Minister.

In line with the National Development Plan (NDP), which prioritises the need for all children to access at least two years of pre-school education, the department has successfully rolled out the Early Childhood Development (ECD) plan in communities throughout the country.

Noting other successes, Minister Motshekga said 86 per cent of schools have been declared no-fee schools to date and over nine million learners were being fed at schools through the National School Nutrition Programme.

“We will also achieve more than R8 billion in funding for no-fee schools to ensure that no child is left behind because of poverty,” she added.

The department will intensify efforts to make sure that more Grade 12 learners have access to a university education. The goal is to increase the number of Grade 12 learners who enrol at universities from 172 000 in 2013 to 250 000 by 2019.

The mass adult literacy campaign, Kha Ri Gude, will also receive a boost of R634.9 million, with a further R62.3 million allocated towards the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) that will create jobs for teacher volunteers.

Higher Education and Training

In his Budget Vote, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said enrolments at Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges, formerly known as Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, has increased by 130 per cent in the past five years.

“We are aggressively paying a particular focus on TVET colleges as the most preferred post schooling option to acquire critical skills that our economy need. We are building more TVET colleges across the country and more money will be directed to elevate their stature and programs offerings. Our top priority is to expand them while improving their quality,” he added.

With a budget of R36.9 billion, the department will spend R2.5 billion on refurbishing two existing TVET campuses and building 12 new campuses in underserved rural areas.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which provides funding to poor students to further their studies, will receive R6.139 billion for 2014/2015.

“This includes R3.914 billion for loans and bursaries to universities, R2.107 billion for bursaries for TVET colleges and R116.2 million for administration. This is supplemented further by R2.416 billion made available through NSFAS recoveries, the National Skills Fund (NSF) scarce skills bursaries, through Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) bursaries and from bursaries such as the Department of Basic Education’s Funza Lushaka programme, bringing the total funding available for loans and bursaries for the 2014 academic year to R8.850 billion,” the Minister said.