Out of the N$11.97 billion overall total budget of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, a whopping N$10 billion has been allocated towards the payment of staff-related expenditure, such as salaries and allowances.
These include basic remuneration, contributions to the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) scheme and other conditions of service. The N$10 billion translates to 85 percent of the total budget, while the remaining portion (about N$585 million) is meant for infrastructure development.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa announced the allocation during her budget motivation statement in the National Assembly on Wednesday, where she noted that approximately N$1.53 billion went to non-personnel and infrastructure-related expenditure in the 2016/17 financial year.
She said the ministry recorded a total teaching staff of 27,886, which includes 18,140 female and 9,746 male teaching staff, deployed in 1,796 schools countrywide.
During the 2016/17 financial year, the ministry was allocated a total budget of N$12.32 billion, compared to the N$11.97 billion allocated this financial year (2017/18).
Furthermore, she said based on the outcomes of 2011 Education Conference and as directed by Cabinet, technical subjects have been introduced in the quest to upscale technical and vocational skills of people. This, she added, required a lot of resources and expertise, which are costly.
Another issue of concern she mentioned is the provision of education facilities, textbooks, other learning materials and funding for the continuous professional development of teachers remain a challenge due to budget limitations.
Despite the heavy budget cuts that affected all government ministries, she vowed the ministry would work within the limited means at their disposal by setting core priorities on key result areas, promote public-private partnerships and stepping up efficiency measures.
The work of the ministry is sub-divided among six programmes, which are implemented through its three departments, namely finance and administration, formal education and information, adult and lifelong learning, as well as arts and culture.
The six programmes to be implemented are policy coordination and support services (N$218,5 million), pre-primary education (N$167,9 million), primary education N$7.7 billion), secondary education (N$3.4 billion), information, adult and lifelong learning, arts and culture (N$422,7 million) as well as HIV/AIDS management unit (N$2.88 million).
She expressed concern that serious obstacles are foreseen in the roll-out of the revised curriculum for Grade 8 and 9 due to budget cuts. The implementation of the revised curriculum commenced during the 2017 academic year for Grade 8, while Grade 9 is expected to commence next year.
The minister said the implementation might be affected due to very limited funding, especially in the area of textbook procurement and continuous professional development.