Education gets biggest slice of pie

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Education

Cape Town - Education will get the biggest slice of this year's budgetary pie at R253.8 billion.

The money has been set aside for the department of basic education, higher education and training, and arts and culture, according to the 2014 Budget Review tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The breakdown in spending for the 2014/15 financial year will be:

* R177.6bn for basic education;

* R29.9bn for tertiary education;

* R23.4bn for vocational and continuing education;

* R12.3bn for education administration; and,

* R10.6bn for recreation and culture.

One of the main goals of the basic education department is to eradicate all inappropriate school structures, such as mud schools, by 2016/17.

According to the 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure, 44 new schools have already been completed and handed over in the Eastern Cape. Sixteen schools are set to be completed by next month.

A total of 433 schools will be re-built over the medium-term period through the school infrastructure backlogs grant.

According to the budget review, R2.94bn has been allocated to the backlogs grant in the new financial year, a sizeable jump from R999m in 2013/14.

Regarding higher education, Gordhan announced in his budget speech that the allocation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would increase.

Students across the country have taken part in protests recently over a shortfall of money in the NSFAS.

“The allocation to the NSFAS increases from R5.1bn last year, to R6.6bn in 2016/17,” Gordhan said.

Total allocations over the next three years came to R19.4bn.

“This will increase the number of Further Education and Training (FET) college bursaries to 292,000 and will assist over 236,000 students to attend university by 2016/17.”

A central applications system for the scheme would be piloted in 2014/15, and rolled out to universities over the medium term.

According to the budget review, the higher education and training department is working with various institutions to improve throughput rates at universities and colleges.

“At present, a high percentage of students drop out; others fail to complete their courses within the allotted time frames,” it states.

The white paper for post-school education and training, released last year, targeted the enrolment of 1.6 million university students and 2.5 million at FET colleges by 2030. - Sapa

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