Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Budget contains a plan to cut basic education funding by about R7 billion over the next three financial years. These funds are being cut from government schools and will cause the further collapse of school infrastructure, affect the number of teachers and weaken our ability to improve maths and science performance, which are vital subjects.
There is already a huge school infrastructure backlog across the country and many learners will be unable to access higher education if their school infrastructure is left to degenerate.
A reply to a DA Parliamentary Question revealed that, by December 2016, more than 1000 schools countrywide had been built with inappropriate materials, 66 lacked sanitation and over 4600 had pit latrines. A further 81 schools had no water supply and 571 had no electricity connection.
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) projects are only expected to be completed in 2021 and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has missed all its ASIDI targets in the past year. Out of a targeted 620 schools, none were connected to electricity and this is just one example of how badly the DBE is failing at addressing poor infrastructure.
The DBE has enough money to meet its ASIDI targets, yet it is simply not being spent. The mismanagement of funds continues to hinder progress in improving schools infrastructure.
Cutting essential education funding is unnecessary as the DA has provided a full budget breakdown of how the budget could be balanced without impacting basic education, but this was ignored by the ANC government.
We are firmly opposed to the R7 billion budget cut and will continue to fight the collapse of the neglect of school infrastructure. Our children deserve to have access to environments that are conducive to learning, not have the money to ensure this cut.