Pipe dreams: Tito’s hubbly bubbly budget for education

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Pipe dreams: Tito’s hubbly bubbly budget for education

Literary flourishes aside, the education budget offered some hard-to-digest lessons. Here, I offer six

Columnist

From a literary point of view, minister Tito Mboweni’s budget offered an exquisite read, citing wisdom from Pliny the Elder to Paul the Apostle. We are a tough and resilient people, the finance minister reminded us, this time evoking the hardy indigenous plant Aloe ferox. As a Botany III student I am obliged to remind the minister that this medicinal plant is also called bitter aloe and that it has laxative properties used to ease the flow of shit through the digestive system. But I digress.

Here are my six hard-to-digest lessons from last week’s education budget.

1. The political chickens have come home to roost. You simply cannot spend 65.6% of GDP on servicing the national debt (R3.56-trillion) – thank Eskom and other state-owned enterprises – against projected revenue of only R1.95-trillion (29.2% of GDP). And for those who still think that the reckless promise of free higher education would have no effect on the rest of the education system, swallow this bitter bill: a real decline in the budgetary allocation to basic education of about R12bn...

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