Government education expenditure on the rise

Government education expenditure on the rise

The South African government expenditure on education increased by R20 billion between 2012/13 and 2013/14, based on data from Stats SA’s recent Financial statistics of consolidated general government release.

Expenditure over time

Total expenditure on education increased by R80 billion over a five-year period, from R169 billion in 2009/10 to R249 billion1 in 2013/14, an average annual rate of 10,2%.

Over the same period, spending on primary education increased from R60 billion to R79 billion (+7,3% p.a.),  secondary education from R50 billion to R71 billion (+9,1% p.a.), and tertiary education from R38 billion to R60 billion (+12,1% p.a.).

The primary school phase of schooling sets the foundation for the development of reading and writing skills. Interestingly, the number of individuals (aged 7-13) attending school increased by 0,2% p.a. between 2009 and 2013, according to data from Stats SA’s General household survey2. This is far lower than the 7,3% p.a. increase in spending. This indicates that government is spending more per primary school learner in 2013 than it did in 2009.

Expenditure by level of government

Provincial government contributed 73% (R181 billion) of total general government expenditure to education in 2013/14, followed by higher education institutions (R52 billion or 21%). The national government as well as extra-budgetary accounts and funds’ share of the education expenditure was R8 billion each (3%).



Education spending contributed 19% to total government expenditure in 2013/14.

Expenditure by level of education

When looking at education expenditure by level, major contributors to spending were pre-primary and primary education, contributing R79 billion (32%) to total general government education expenditure in 2013/14, followed by secondary and post-secondary education at R71 billion (29%), tertiary education at R60 billion (24%) and education not elsewhere classified3 at R38 billion (15%).



Cost factors of education

Of the R249 billion spent by general government on education in 2013/14, R169 billion (68%) was spent on compensation of employees. This was followed by purchases of goods and services (R51 billion or 21%) and purchases of non-financial assets (R16 billion or 6%).



In 2012/13, R157 billion (68%) was spent on compensation of employees, R46 billion (21%) on purchases of goods and services, R13 billion (6%) on purchases of non-financial assets, and R13 billion (5%) on other payments.

About the report

Stats SA’s Financial statistics of consolidated general government report provides the nett position of government spending as it eliminates transactions between national, provincial, local government, extra-budgetary accounts and higher education institutions (such as grants and transfers). If, for example, funds for education were transferred from national government to provincial government, it would be possible to double count transactions, resulting in an incorrect interpretation on government education expenditure. The consolidated report presents a clean version of government spending, both functionally and economically classified.

Download the complete publication here.

1 All amounts are in nominal terms.

2 View the archive for the General household survey here.

3 Education not elsewhere classified includes administration, inspection, coordination and monitoring of overall educational policies, plans and programmes.