Union Rejects Government Spending On Higher Education Infrastructure


The Higher Education sector was one of the many aspects discussed during the much-anticipated 2023 Budget Speech. However, not everyone is approving of the planned spending stipulated by the Finance Minister during his address. 



The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, delivered the annual Budget Speech, on Wednesday, 22 February 2023. 

During 2023 Budget Speech, it was revealed that a sky-high monetary figure is to be expected to be spent for the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in the upcoming three years.

According to the National Treasury, over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Department of Higher Education’s (DHET) expenditure is expected to reach a staggering R135,6 billion in the 2023/24 financial year, R148,3 billion in 2024/25 and will rise to R153,9 billion in 2025/26.

However, not everyone is satisfied with what the Finance Minister had revealed. 

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU), a trade union in South Africa, has released a statement rejecting parts of the Minister's monetary plans for the post-school education sector. 

"We note that the planned allocations to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) are set to grow more or less in line with inflation at 6%, as would the overall post-school budget at 5%. However, this shall not resolve the brewing contradiction between the growing number of eligible matriculants and the available places at universities in particular, as subsidies to this sector shall increase below inflation at 3.2% over the medium term.

Hence, we strongly condemn the contraction of spending on infrastructure for higher education by 2.6% and TVETs by 14%," reads the Union's statement. 

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

According to NEHAWU, government's decision will only lead to overcrowding in institutions of higher learning, strained infrastructure, lessened quality of learning and teaching, and will further exacerbate the current student accommodation crisis.

Despite the Union's dissatisfaction with this particular decision, the DHET's  decision to re-prioritise 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, in order to reduce its reliance on Basic Education school infrastructure.

Many of South Africa's mounting issues were covered during the speech, most notably the severe electricity crisisthe increase of social grant monies, as well as the Basic and Higher Education Sectors.



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