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Calls Intensify To Increase Education Budget And Reverse CUT

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Calls Intensify To Increase Education Budget And Reverse CUT

Calls Intensify To Increase Education Budget And Reverse Cuts.Advocacy groups have expressed increasing concern over the impact of budget cuts on education delivery, particularly following the finance minister’s revision of the basic education sector’s budget allocation.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently announced a budget of R324.5 billion for the Basic Education sector in the 2024/2025 financial year, with additional funds allocated for teacher salary increases.

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Concerns Over Budget Cuts

Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) have voiced strong concerns regarding budget cuts affecting the sector. These cuts, part of an overall reduction of R2.8 billion approved by the cabinet over the medium term, have impacted various programs, including the school infrastructure budget.

Funding Allocations

The Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG), the primary funding source for school infrastructure initiatives, received an allocation of R13.68 billion. While this marks a slight increase compared to previous figures, it effectively reverses cuts made in November 2023 but falls slightly short of the allocation in February 2023.

Criticisms and Demands

EE and EELC argue that these measures significantly affect millions of poor and low-income households reliant on government services for their socio-economic rights, especially the right to basic education. They contend that the budget falls short of the government’s obligations to uphold human rights.

Opposition to Austerity Measures

The continued austerity budgeting by the National Treasury, aimed at addressing South Africa’s debt, is seen as detrimental to public services like basic education. EE and EELC oppose this strategy, urging Parliament to review its decision on education funding cuts and calling for an immediate reversal of all reductions.

Recommendations

They demand that education budgets account for inflation and increased learner enrollment, and advocate for enhancements to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) subsidy and nutrition support for children in all ECD programs.

Conclusion

EE and EELC stress the need for rigorous monitoring and oversight to ensure efficient use of resources by education departments, alongside a revision of the approach to debt management and fiscal consolidation to prioritize and protect socio-economic rights.

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Funza Lushaka Teaching Bursaries CUT By Department

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Funza Lushaka Teaching Bursaries CUT By Department

Funza Lushaka Teaching Bursaries CUT By Department. South Africa education system faces a critical shortage of teachers, particularly in areas like the foundation phase where students are taught fundamental skills like reading. However, recent budget cuts have led to reduced funding for teaching bursaries, potentially impacting the number of new teachers entering the profession.

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The Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme

The Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme plays a crucial role in encouraging young people to pursue teaching careers by providing comprehensive bursaries for teaching qualifications. These bursaries cover Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) courses at all 26 public universities in South Africa.

One of the key objectives of the Funza Lushaka bursaries is to address critical shortages of teachers in specific subject areas. However, due to budget constraints imposed by the National Treasury, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has announced a reduction in the number of bursaries awarded through the programme, leading to concerns about the impact on teacher production.

Impact of Budget Cut

The reduction in Funza Lushaka bursaries is a result of broader budget cuts affecting the education sector. According to DBE Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga, these cuts were necessary to manage financial constraints. Additionally, the rising cost of university tuition has further limited the number of bursaries available to prospective teaching students.

Concerns Raised by NAPTOSA

The National Professional Teacher Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) has strongly criticized the DBE’s decision to reduce funding for the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme. NAPTOSA Executive Director Basil Manuel has expressed concern over the mismatch between the types of teachers being produced and the specific needs of the education system.

Manuel highlights the shortage of foundation phase teachers (Grades 1 to 3) as a particular area of concern. He emphasizes the importance of specialized training for teachers in the foundation phase, especially in areas like reading instruction. Manuel argues that without proper training, teachers may struggle to meet the needs of young learners, potentially contributing to high levels of illiteracy.

Future Priorities

Despite the budget cuts, Mhlanga has stated that the DBE remains committed to addressing critical teacher shortages, particularly in the foundation phase, Mathematics, and mother-tongue teaching. The department plans to prioritize funding to produce teachers in these areas, acknowledging their importance in improving educational outcomes.

However, NAPTOSA has raised concerns about the availability of teachers qualified to teach in mother-tongue languages, particularly in the foundation phase. Manuel warns that without sufficient training for teachers in these areas, South Africa may struggle to improve literacy rates, especially among young learners.

Conclusion

The reduction in funding for the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme is likely to have significant implications for the education sector in South Africa, particularly in addressing critical teacher shortages. The decision has sparked debate about the importance of specialized teacher training, especially in areas crucial for early childhood development and literacy.

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