Windhoek-Of the N$13.5 billion overall total budget allocation of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for 2018/19, a whopping N$10.7 billion is allocated towards the payment of staff-related expenditure.
These include basic remuneration, allowances, contributions to the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) scheme and other conditions of service.
The N$10.7 billion translates to 75 percent of the total budget, while the remaining smaller portion is meant for infrastructure development.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who announced the allocation during her budget motivation statement in the National Assembly last week, said this has been a recurring trend over the years and is inevitable given the current rate of increase in the demand for teachers, which is at three percent annually.
In the 2017/2018 financial year, out of the initial N$11.97 billion budget allocated to the ministry, a whopping N$10 billion – representing 85 percent of total allocation – went to the payment of staff-related expenditure, such as salaries and allowances.
The budget allocation of N$13.5 billion, from the N$12.96 billion in the 2017/18 financial year, represents a four percent increase.
The operational budget allocation is N$12.8 billion, a slight increase of two percent from N$12.45 billion in the 2017/18 financial year.
The development budget has increased by 29 percent to N$659.8 million, when compared to 2017/18.
Hanse-Himarwa said the budget revision since the introduction of the fiscal consolidation strategy could be felt mostly during the execution of the 2017/18 budget, especially in regions where services such as hostel catering and utilities were terminated due to non-payment. “The worst cases were when learners were sent home from hostels since meals could not be provided or electricity services were discontinued,” she noted.
She said there is however still a need to recruit additional teachers as a result of increases in the learner enrolment numbers as well as curriculum changes.
She thus requested for leniency in the recruitment of teaching staff.
She revealed the budgetary allocations for additional teachers required will be finalised after analysis of the availability of teachers in the senior secondary phase.
The ministry is responsible for more than 755,943 learners in 1,883 schools, taught by 28,688 teachers, according to the Education Management Information System (EMIS), 2018 – Fifteenth School Day Statistics.
Hanse-Himarwa maintained that efficiencies in payroll administration continue to be a critical priority and will be ensured through annual payroll verification exercises.
Equally, she noted that the lack of targeted funding for reform implementation has been seen as the biggest stumbling block and has contributed to overspending over the years.
The budget will be executed through six key programmes, namely policy coordination and support services; pre-primary education; primary education; secondary education; information, adult and lifelong learning, and the HIV/AIDS management unit.
For the 2018/19 financial year therefore, the ministry has set aside N$60 million for the construction of additional classrooms for the implementation of the Basic Education Curriculum, especially for Grade 10 in 2019.
The curriculum reforms for basic education were informed by the Cabinet directives based on the outcomes of the National Conference on Education held on June 27 to July 1, 2011. After consolidation of all the input from the public, the then Ministry of Education tabled the curriculum reforms in Cabinet.
The ministry also set aside N$58 million for textbooks procurement for Grade 10 and Grade 11 to aid teachers.
She said N$76,960 has been allocated for the secondary school principal training; while N$976,800 is set aside for the evaluation of textbooks for Grade 10 and 11.
Further, N$13. 6 million has been allocated for science consumables, while N$10.4 million is set for the live paper setting workshops for the new Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level (NSSCO) national examinations.
A total of N$1.6 million is set aside for the Namibian Senior Secondary Advanced Subsidiary (NSSCAS) level syllabus development.