As department improves utilisation of funds
The Free State department of education has once again received the largest portion of the provincial budget as the province strives to fast-track transformation and improve people’s lives, treasury MEC Elzabe Rockman said.
The education department received R12.060 billion for the 2016/17 financial year in the budget which was presented on Tuesday.
And over the three-year Mid Term Expenditure Framework, it is estimated that the department would receive a total of R38.796 billion. This means for the 2017/18 financial year, the province would receive R13.022 billion and R13.713 billion in the 2018/19 outer year.
“Our investment in quality education plays a key role in accelerating and achieving social transformation, hence the department of education continues to receive the largest share of the provincial budget,” said Rockman in her address.
She said the money would be used for among other things to fund “no fee” schools, buy learner teacher support materials, the expansion of Grade R, Grade 12 support programmes, school nutrition programmes, school connectivity, training and development of educators, hostel support and education infrastructure.
The MEC also said there had been marked progress in the manner in which the department had utilised funds allocated to it in the last financial year compared to previous years following intervention by the provincial treasury.
She said treasury would continue working with the education department to ensure smooth running of operations.
“During the tabling of the 2015 provincial budget, I mentioned that the provincial treasury and the department of education will be working together to address structural budget matters and the strengthening of financial management in the department. Our collective efforts will continue to yield positive results…” she added.
As a result of the intervention, the projected over-expenditure for the department this year is estimated to come down by almost 46 percent from the R589 million of the previous financial year to a projected R261 million.
Elzabe said the education department also settled the full amount of R270 million for accruals from the 2015/16 financial year
Among the other programmes that the department is implementing is the piloting of prepaid electricity meters in schools in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality.
A total of 34 schools have converted to prepaid meters.
The MEC said the initiative is aimed at achieving two main objectives, namely: ensuring that schools pay for the services utilised whilst encouraging responsible energy use and strengthening local government revenue collection.
The programme is expected to be rolled-out to other districts in the near future.