Chairperson, hon members, hon Ministers, Deputy Minister and the public at large, as stated clearly in the Polokwane resolution document, "the overarching vision that informs ANC education policy is 'People's Education for People's Power'". It is for that reason that the ANC made education one of the five key priority areas for the next five years. It is also for that reason that the ANC split the Education department into basic and higher education in order for Basic Education to focus on improving the quality of our education and for Higher Education to focus on skills development and training issues, which shall lead to the creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods for our people. It is therefore not surprising that the education sector continues to walk away with the biggest slice of the national Budget.
It is encouraging to note that in the previous financial year the department of Education received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General. We hope that both the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training will continue to utilise resources allocated to them in a responsible and accountable manner.
The key strategic policy priorities of the Department of Basic Education in the current financial year, as identified in the 2010 to 2013 strategic plan, includes the following: First, the curriculum will be streamlined by amending parts of the existing curriculum in order to remove certain administrative burdens and make it easier for teachers to teach.
Second, a detailed and integrated strategy on the assessment of learners will be developed, demonstrating how the assessment of learners in Grades R to 9 will be taken forward. This priority aims to address, among others, the challenge of low levels of literacy and numeracy skills among our learners, as has been shown by several studies, the formulation of a national plan on teacher development and ensuring that the goals of the strategic plan are achieved through collaboration with key education stakeholder organisations, including teacher unions, universities and other training providers, as well as the SA Council for Educators.
Third is the distribution of workbooks to all Grades R to 9 learners in all public schools in order to facilitate the implementation of the curriculum and, in particular, to ensure that learners perform sufficient practical exercises in the year. It is important, however, for the department to ensure uniformity in terms of the books that are distributed to all the schools, so that all learners are examined based on the same books.
Fourth is the development and effective implementation of education management training in order to ensure that the management and governance capacity of school principals are improved and school functionality is enhanced. This priority aims, among others, to address the challenge of dysfunctionality of some schools, as shown in the findings of several research studies.
Fifth is the strengthening of the department's web presence and the promotion of the e-Education strategy, catering for the information needs of all education officials, principals, teachers and learners. However, the question of access, especially for deep rural provinces, is still a challenge which the department should address as a matter of urgency.
Lastly, there is the establishment of a long-term plan for the basic education sector to be known as Schooling 2025: An Action Plan for the Improving of Basic Education.
The budget for the Department of Basic Education for the financial year 2010-11 is R6,1 billion. It has increased from R4,4 billion for the 2009-10 financial year. This year's budget has increased by 37,81% in nominal terms and by 29,16% in real terms from the 2009-10 financial year. Sixty-three per cent of the 2010-11 budget goes to social responsibility, which includes the following objectives: improving gender equity in schools; improving quality education and promoting access to 450 rural schools; and reducing teenage pregnancies.
It is an open secret that South Africa is haunted by the problem of skills shortages, especially of scarce skills, which impacts negatively on economic development and reducing unemployment rates. Importing skills from other countries is a short-term solution. The question is, where is the long-term strategy for South Africa on the issue of scarce skills?
The key strategic policy priorities for the Department of Higher Education and Training in the current financial year, as identified in the 2010 state of the nation address and affirmed in the 2010 Budget Speech are, first, to place education and skills development at the centre of economic development. However, it is crucial for the Department of Higher Education and Training to identify all the specific skills needed by our economy in order to motivate students to acquire these skills.
Second is facilitating the training of 16- to 25-year-olds in the further education and training band, and providing a second chance at education for those who do not qualify for university education. It would be advisable for the department to expand the engagement with the private sector for purposes of greater exposure on the part of trainees.
Third, the department has to work with institutions of higher education to ensure that eligible students do obtain financial assistance through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, in particular those students who are academically able but socioeconomically poor. However, the challenge for the department is to improve its monitoring functions so that the allocations and utilisation of National Student Financial Aid Scheme funds are prioritised for learners who are the most needy.
An amount of R23,7 billion has been appropriated to the Department of Higher Education and Training, excluding direct charges against the National Revenue Fund for the sector education and training authorities and National Skills Fund. The bulk of the department's budget is allocated to the University Education Programme, which takes up to 82,4% of the budget, while the second-highest allocation goes to the Vocational and Continuing Education and Training Programme at 16,4%. In terms of economic classification, 98% of the budget goes to transfers and subsidies.
It is interesting to note that both budget allocations for Basic Education and Higher Education and Training are actually in line with the policy priorities as clearly outlined in the state of the nation address and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework for 2009 to 2014. It is also interesting to note that both budget allocations confirm that education must remain the country's number one priority.
Members will note and hopefully appreciate the increases in the budget allocation for both Basic Education and Higher Education and Training. These increases are a clear indication of the commitment of the ANC-led government to ensure quality education for all.
This goes to show that the ANC has a clear understanding of the fact that education is a useful instrument in the fight against poverty and inequality and that it is indispensible in the reversal of past social and economic imbalances. Indeed, working together, we can do more. The ANC supports both Budget Votes. I thank you. [Applause.]