SA government spent R360 billion on education in 2018/2019

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Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the governmental body which tracks and documents important data in the country, has released a new publication which looks at government expenditure in the 2018/2019 fiscal year which ended on 31st March 2019.

While we may be close to the end of 2020 it’s worth looking at these numbers, especially when it comes to education, as this sector has been hit particularly hard due to the pandemic. When 2020 is over it will be interesting to see how these numbers change in the 2019/2020 fiscal year for the government.

To that end government spent R1.79 trillion (R1 794 672 million) in the 2018/2019 fiscal year. Yes, that’s trillion with a T. Of that amount 20.1 percent when to education at R360 239 million, or R360 billion in short as displayed on the infographic provided by Stats SA below.

Education is the second biggest sector when it comes to spending, with general and public services at the top with 24.4 percent, or R437 129 million (R437 billion).


While the graph above breaks education down into four categories, the full report splits them further as:

  • Pre-primary and primary education
  • Secondary education
  • Post-secondary non-tertiary education
  • Tertiary education
  • Education not definable by level
  • Subsidiary services to education
  • R&D Education
  • Education n.e.c.

The publication – “Financial statistics of consolidated general government 2018/2019” is available in full as a PDF for those with a head for statistics and accounting. For the rest of us a neat key findings summary is also available on the Stats SA site.

With primary education being the biggest source of expenditure in the sector it will be interesting to see the numbers for the 2019/2020 fiscal year. The lockdown and other pandemic-related problems has left the government scrambling to get the Matric exams in order, rolling out programmes such as Woza Matrics.

Making exam centres COVID-19 ready together with tasks such as tracking down leaked exams can’t be cheap and will surely be seen when future expenditure reports are released.

Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of