A dichotomy in budgets
Russell Wildeman, education specialist Idasa
In the national budget 2005, the apparent conflict is resolved through the way resource flows are defined. By concentrating the largest increases to budgets in the first year of the MTEF (2005/06), budgets for the outer years are allowed to stagnate or to grow conservatively in real terms.
While the education budget 2004 could no longer hide cracks in funding of programmes that serves poor learners, the education budget 2005 exposes expenditure items that defined the core of post-2000 provincial education budgets.
Capital expenditure takes serious knocks in many of the proposed provincial education expenditure plans, even as personnel expenditure is tightly controlled in the outer years of the new MTEF.
It is not a simple trade-off between personnel expenditure and capital expenditure, which suggests that these key items have been targeted for slower real expansion over the present MTEF.
This reinforces the reality that provincial
education policy makers have to operate with smaller shares in real terms. This is why the distinguishing mark of the education budget 2005 is its definition by expenditure items, of substantially lesser magnitude.
The provincial education departments have adjusted themselves to swim in a smaller fiscal pond, even as the ambitions of learners and poor communities have grown larger
Although the resultant mismatch between resources and demands is self-evident, it is not clear where additional resources will be found to bridge this large gap.
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