Godongwana must address lack of investment in SA education sector



Dr Corrin Varady, CEO of IDEA, praised the Finance Minister's announcement that he would be allocating R303 billion towards basic education. However he tell us his concern is that mixed signals or confused priorities will either lead to misspent or underspent funds at provincial level.



Essential to a functioning South African economy, is a functioning South African education system. This is a key takeaway from Dr Corrin Varady, CEO of IDEA following Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s 2024 Budget Speech.

With the Finance Minister allocating R303 billion towards basic education, Dr Varady says that while this is welcome, his concern is that mixed signals or confused priorities will either lead to misspent or underspent budget, as evidenced by large parts of the 2023 education budget allocations remaining unspent.

“How is it possible that after the concerns that the 2023 budget cuts would lead to conservative spending, we have seen even reduced budgets sent back to treasury? This has led to missed opportunities for addressing critical systemic issues in our education system.”

He adds that bringing a heightened focus to utilising the fiscal budget to investing in education will yield multifaceted returns in the long-term.

“Investment in education should go further than infrastructure, but also in ensuring that educators and students are adequately equipped to teach and learn. The soft skills, learning program parts of procurement are often the least prioritized and ultimately are the parts that make the most difference to the outcomes of our students".

"The budget outlines that significant public sector funding exists and there are proven educational improvement solutions. Therefore, procurement processes need to evolve so that we don’t see budgets left untouched, and therein learning improvements left unrealized.”

“As a country, we cannot afford to skimp on education expenditure,” stresses Dr Varady. “It is a necessity for our future. Economic uncertainty and unemployment will persist if we do not ensure budgetary consistency in education. We must ensure that learners are placed in schools, that classrooms are built, that digital and non-digital learning curriculum programmes are delivered, and that teachers are trained because, after all, a functioning education system is essential for a functioning economy.”

He concludes by saying, “Spending on education should not be swayed by speculation around economic performance or the currency exchange - none of this should impact such a fundamental social bedrock investment. Rather, the public sector must invest for the long-term because, while 10 or 15 years might seem a long way away, it creeps up on us sooner than we realise, and it will be our learners who suffer as a result.”


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