Budget: R1.2bn cash injection for science, tech grant

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National Treasury allocates R1.2 billion to help train teachers, and provide equipment and software to schools.
National Treasury allocates R1.2 billion to help train teachers, and provide equipment and software to schools.

Budget 2019: Finance minister Tito Mboweni says budget spending has to focus on getting the country ready for technology, and doing this requires fixing the country's education system.

Mboweni made the comments during the tabling of the much-anticipated 2019 National Budget Speech in Parliament in Cape Town.

Noting the five tasks set during president Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA), Mboweni stressed the need to improve the education system and develop skills needed now and into the future.

At SONA, Ramaphosa promised to revamp SA's education system by equipping every school child with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device over the next six years.

Since taking office in February 2018, Ramaphosa and his administration have dedicated attention to the fourth industrial revolution and how to equip citizens with the necessary skills to thrive in a digital society.

The president believes in order to achieve equitable growth, draw young people into employment and prepare the country for the digital age, the state must prioritise education and the development of skills that are needed now and into the future.

"We will start with those schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and are located in the poorest communities, including multigrade, multiphase, farm and rural schools," he said at SONA.

In line with aspirations to develop key skills at education level, Mboweni emphasised government's focus on a maths, science and technology grant.

In addition, the governor of the South African Reserve Bank, together with colleagues from the other financial-sector regulators, is driving an ambitious fintech programme, he pointed out.

The full budget review document, which is handed out to coincide with the finance minister's budget speech, reveals over the medium-term, the maths, science and technology grant has been allocated R1.2 billion to help train teachers, and provide equipment and software to schools.

According to the document, the maths, science and technology grant resulted from the merging of the Dinaledi schools grant and the technical secondary schools recapitalisation grant.

The grant, now in its fourth year, has increased the provision of ICT, workshop equipment and machinery apparatus to schools around the country, states the document.

Mboweni explained: "Learning and culture receives the largest share of spending as government continues to provide access to quality basic and higher education, develop skills, provide training and contribute to social cohesion.

"Over R30 billion is allocated to build new schools and maintain schooling infrastructure. An additional R2.8 billion is added to the school infrastructure backlogs grant to replace pit latrines at over 2 400 schools. But to make certain these schools are effective centres of learning will also require parents to be a visible and constructive part in the governance of schools.

"Our children are our future. Most of the spending goes to education, and we will strengthen early childhood development and support higher education for the most deserving," he concluded.

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