Education budget ‘the devil is in details’- activist

Education activist Limbani Nsapato says the national budget presented by Finance Minister Ken Lipenga in Parliament on Friday has given education sector a lion’s share but noted that the devil is in details.

Lipenga told Parliament that Education, Science and Technology Sector’s allocation has grown to K74.7 billion representing 22 percent of the total Budget.  T

he Recurrent Budget of K55.6 billion includes K2.8 billion for recruitment of over 16,000 Teachers for Primary, Secondary and Special Needs education while K1.8 billion is for the procurement of teaching and learning materials.

Total Development Budget for the Education sector is K10.4 billion.

Nsapato: The devil is in the details

“Education has K74.7 billion out of total expenditure projected at K406.08 bn. This is 18.4% of total budget which is 0. 2 percentage points less than last year’s 18.6%, and below the acid test of
20%, which is minimum governments should dedicate to education to achieve 2015 education and millennium goals,” Nsampato noted.

“The allocation is however, 22.7% of the recurrent expenditure of K328.91bn, and is
1.7%age points below last year figure of 24.4% of the recurrent budget.

“This entails that despite getting the lion’s share, education budget allocation in percentage terms had declined from last year’s allocation,” Nsampato said.

The education activist also pointed out that the 21% salary increase for civil servants is a mockery given the over 40% devaluation of kwacha and the projected 18.4% inflation for 2012 and 16.1% for 2013 (average 17.25 for 2012/13 financial year).

“To give you a picture although this entails that  a teacher who was paid K12,900 a month under the 2011/12 budget will cut home K15,609 under 2012/13 budget, the purchasing power of this K15,609 is reduce to only K7,750 after factoring in a 40% devaluation and average of 17.25% inflation for the period.

“In essence it means that under 2012/13 budget in real terms the teacher is losing K5, 150 or 39.9% over the 2011/12 budget.  This means poorer teachers and hard times indeed.”

He however said there are positives in the 2012/13 budget for education however.

“These include K2.8 billion for recruitment of 16,000 teachers, K1.8billion for teaching and learning materials, and some allocation for rehabilitation of 4,000 classroom blocks, and teachers’ houses out of the K10.4 billion education development expenditure.”

Finance Minister said in the budget speech that the public Universities and other Education Sector Subverted Organisations have been allocated a total of K13.8 billion.  The institutions include the University of Malawi (UNIMA), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Mzuzu University and the yet to be opened Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).

He said completion works at MUST will be financed through a loan from China while K800 million has been set aside for financing construction of some teaching and learning infrastructure at Bunda College, Chancellor College and the Polytechnic.

“Mr. Speaker, Sir, the resources allocated to the universities are far from adequate. The requirements of a quality university education are quite huge. Given the available resource envelope, it will be unrealistic for all of us to expect that we can provide a sustainable quality university education without a reasonable contribution from the beneficiaries,” he said.

Lipenga said government has set up a Committee to review and recommend appropriate levels of University Student contribution to ensure that the Colleges have reasonable resources to cover their expenses and create a conducive learning environment.

With a deficit of K13.49 billion, Lipenga, has dubbed it a “Transitional and Recovery Based Budget”, it is not Zero Deficit budget.

But activist Nsapato said: “ I wonder how with the 21% increase, amid the over 40% kwacha devaluation and high inflation rate , this will be a recovery to civil servants especially teachers. But one can only hope that the new administration will do its best to ensure that it is a truly recovery based budget for all Malawians.”

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