Government to increase spending on learning and culture

Government is expected to spend at least R1.4 trillion over the next three years on higher and basic education and the sports, arts and culture function.

This is according to National Treasury documents presented alongside Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s 2023 Budget Speech, this afternoon in Cape Town.

According to the Treasury documents, the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) spending is expected to rise from R39.4 billion in the coming financial year 2023/24, to R316.5 billion in 2024/25 and reach some R331.2 billion in 2025/26.

“The basic education sector receives 66.9% of [the learning and culture] funding over the MTEF [Medium Term Expenditure Framework] period, of which compensation of employees accounts for just over half.

“Additional funding of R20 billion is allocated through the provincial equitable share, mainly to cover shortfalls in basic education compensation budgets. Funding for the national school nutrition programme grant is increased by R1.5 billion over the MTEF period to ensure that the meals provided to learners meet nutritional requirements,” National Treasury said.

The Early Childhood Development (ECD) function – which was transferred to the DBE from the Department of Social Development (DSD) – will be given a financial boost to serve more children.

“The [ECD] grant receives an additional R1.6 billion over the medium term to increase the number of children receiving the early childhood development subsidy, provide pre-registration support to early childhood development centres, and pilot a nutrition support programme and a results-based delivery model where the service provider is only paid for the outputs delivered.

“Additional funding of R198 million is allocated in 2023/24 to enable provision of early childhood development resource packages, which include daily activity plans linked to the National Curriculum Framework.

“Over the MTEF period, R30 million is allocated to improve the [DBE’s] oversight and capacity for managing the programme,” Treasury said.

Some R283.3 million has also been allocated to the DBE to repair those schools damaged during the devastating April 2022 floods both in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Furthermore, R1.5 billion is allocated over the next three years for Gauteng’s school infrastructure improvement project.

Higher Education
Over the MTEF, the Department of Higher Education’s (DHET) expenditure is expected to reach some R135.6 billion in 2023/24, R148.3 billion in 2024/25 and rise to R153.9 billion in 2025/26.

In 2023/24, at least R50 billion will be allocated to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

DHET’s second biggest spending point in 2023/24 is expected to be universities’ subsidies coming in at some R44.4 billion while spending at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and Community Education and Training (CET) centres combined will reach at least R15 billion.

“The [DHET] has reprioritised R1.1 billion over the medium term to enable the community education and training (CET) sector to build its own infrastructure for learning and teaching, reducing its current reliance on basic education school infrastructure.

“Expenditure for the post-school education and training sector increases at an average annual rate of 5 per cent over the medium term, supporting universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, CET colleges and sector education and training authorities in delivering quality post-school education and training,” the department said.

The National Treasury said Sports, Arts and Culture will receive some R35.7 billion over the MTEF to “support sports in schools and preserve, develop and promote cultural, heritage and linguistic diversity, and build social cohesion”.

– SAnews