Date: Feb 26, 2020

South Africa: Government needs to up its game on reporting on school infrastructure expenditure and progress

In response to today’s National Budget Speech, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“As with previous years, the lion’s share of South Africa’s budget has been allocated to basic education with R248.6 billion earmarked. Mr Mboweni stated that investment will go to new schools, replacing schools constructed with inappropriate materials, and providing them with water, electricity and sanitation. Whilst this is welcome we are not seeing this translate into enough concrete progress on the ground.

“As our research released earlier this month showed the government has missed its own targets on education infrastructure projects time and time again and, as Mr Mboweni said, classroom sizes are growing and with that comes even greater demand. However, reporting on progress is woefully slim and varies from province to province. This lack of accountability and transparency only increases the very real possibility that the government will, once again, miss its own objectives for school infrastructure,” added Mohamed.

“Not only does the public deserve to know how every Rand is spent, but learners deserve to learn in schools with sound infrastructure, starting with access to clean and functional sanitation facilities. It’s no good introducing coding and robotics to learners in grades R to 3 if they are at risk of drowning in a pit latrine at their school.

“The government must urgently improve its reporting on school infrastructure expenditure and progress. This will increase the bang for every buck. Only then will every child in the country have a chance at realising their right to quality basic education.”

BACKGROUND

The National Budget Speech is the government’s spending plan for the coming financial year. The Minister of Finance is responsible for allocating money to the government’s different objectives and programmes. The National Budget Speech usually takes place in February each year.

Amnesty International South Africa launched its report and campaign Broken and Unequal: The State of Education in South Africa on 11 February 2020.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6033 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile); mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za