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Cape Town - A new comparison between current and apartheid education spending has revealed that a similar amount of money is spent on each pupil now to what was spent on white pupils under apartheid.
This is according to an article, “What do we spend on schooling?”, which appeared on Politicsweb on Tuesday.
Written by Politicsweb publisher James Myburgh, the article compared current and apartheid spending on schooling and found the amount spent on all pupils was close to what was spent on white pupils under the National Party.
The average yearly spend per pupil now is R14 553. In 1992/93, the average yearly spend per white pupil would work out to be R16 526.
The article says the ANC government could be proud of two achievements.
“It has both equalised educational spending by race and it has, since 1994, gradually lifted per capita expenditure for the entire school system to a level similar to that spent on South Africa’s racial minorities during the final few years of National Party rule.
“However, this all makes the failure to actually improve the quality of education for pupils in historically black schools all the more glaring.”
Myburgh acknowledged that apples were not necessarily being compared with apples in his calculations.
“One has to be cautious about comparing these figures over time - even controlling for inflation - as the methods for calculating per capita expenditure may well have also changed over time. Certain expenditure may also have been off or over budget, or not counted - if it fell under another department.
“Nonetheless, it does seem that per capita state expenditure on schooling today is quite close, in real terms, to the per capita expenditure on white, coloured and Indian schooling in the last few years of apartheid.”
Myburgh wrote that the state of South African schooling, which he described as “dysfunctional” and “dire”, was often blamed on the “legacy of Bantu Education” and the difference in spending on white and black pupils throughout apartheid.
“One question this raises is how per capita state spending on schooling today compares with that under apartheid,” he said.
In an answer to a recent parliamentary question, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the average yearly spend per pupil was R14 553.
This was calculated by dividing the total budgeted expenditure per province by the number of pupils per province.
The Free State and Northern Cape had the highest per pupil budgets.
The Western Cape came in third, spending about R1 040 more than the national average per pupil.
Myburgh looked at what was spent on each race group in 1968/69, 1981/82, 1982/83 and 1992/93.
“By the time the National Party government set about desegregating the school system in the early 1990s the differential in expenditure by race had narrowed, but was still substantial,” he wrote.
Education specialist Graeme Bloch said it was positive that spending had increased to those levels.
“Things have equalised and more kids are getting through primary school than under those days.
“But just equalising things isn’t going to help.”
Bloch, who was visiting adjunct professor at the University of the Witwatersrand Public and Development Management School and a senior researcher at the Mapungubwe Institute, said it would cost a lot of money to truly equalise the quality of education for all children.
“We do spend a lot and we don’t get good results. We are improving. It’s actually quite quick. But it’s not fast enough. There is some equalisation, but quality remains an issue.”