Education minister Anna Nghipondoka has expressed concern about the level of investment into the basic education sector.
Nghipondoka expressed this concern while motivating the ministry’s budget of N$13.7 billion for the 2021/22 financial year in the National Assembly last week Thursday.
“Despite receiving the largest portion of the national budget, we are concerned about the education outcomes which are not congruent to the level of investment being ploughed in the basic education sector,” Nghipondoka said.
However, she said the ministry is continuously analysing possible wastages to ensure that the funds allocated serve the purpose of improving the quality of actual teaching and learning.
To continuously address the disequilibrium, she said the ministry has been unpacking the high cost drivers and arrive at some mitigating approaches.
These mitigating approaches, Nghipondoka said, will include, among others, embarking upon hostel reclassification, which will inform the determination of hostel fees and hostel development fund adjustments.
“The textbooks and material supplies for quality teaching and learning received N$35 million in the financial year. On the contrary, the catering for government school hostels would in this financial year amount to N$ 582 million while only serving 65 000 learners in hostels,” she explained.
According to her, these 65 000 learners are costing the ministry more than half a billion to feed, making up only 8% of the total learner population of 800 000.
This in itself, she said, is a gross inequity and needs the country’s joint advocacy in considering the implementation of cost recovery measures on food and nutrition of school going children.
“This means that parents and guardians may be required to increase their current minimum contributions for the upkeep of their children in hostels as well as towards the hostel development fund,” she told lawmakers.
Furthermore, Nghipondoka said 82% of the total budget of the ministry goes to employment cost and accounts for the largest expenditure across all education levels and tends to crowd out other spendings.
This, she said, is understandably so because the ministry employs about 40% of the public servants at the current staff complement of 43 517 posts.
The staff complement of the ministry as of 31 March 2021 was 38 742, out of which 26 640 are teaching staff and 12 102 are unified staff.
She said the ministry’s focus for this financial year will be to strengthen efficiencies in the payroll administration through a monthly pay-sheet control and conducting annual payroll verification exercises.
According to her, this will eliminate wasteful expenditure and allows the freezing of non-critical posts on the unified structure of the ministry.
“The ministry has put a moratorium on filling of non-critical posts on the unified structure. This initiative has started already during the 2018/19 financial year and the number of posts mainly on the unified structure of the ministry has reduced,” she said.