Investments should be made for quality education rather than resource cuts
A reaction of the CSOs to the Budget rebalance of the Republic of North Macedonia in September 2019
We are concerned about the reduction of education sector finances with the Budget rebalance of the Republic of North Macedonia in September 2019.
After “Transport and Communications” and “Finance”, “Education” is the third sector with the most cuts in this rebalance. Thus, the highest cut is made in the higher education – 329 million denars, followed by the item “investment in education” – 218 million denars cut and the elementary education item – 147 million denars cut. It is envisaged that the Bureau for Development of Education will receive 18 million denars less, with most of the funds being cut from the item “professional development of the educational staff in primary and secondary education”. Therefore, the question is who will improve the quality of teaching and in what manner, if the teachers themselves are not supported for further professional development.
The proposed rebalance has justified cuts, but when there is already room for cuts in the “education” sector, such as funds intended for the construction of university buildings in the UKIM yard, why these funds are not used in the same sector where they are really needed? For example, a positive thing is that with the rebalance, funds are being raised for the student standard and their decentralization. The question is why can’t it be similar regarding other important issues?
The country ranks fourth from the bottom of the international PISA rankings that measure students’ usability of knowledge. Parents self-paint the school premises, and students raise money for toilet paper and soap. The state dormitories in Skopje receive only 61 denars for three meals per student per day.
An example of a useful investment is the construction of the modern school “Kiro Gligorov” which by all standards provides inclusive education. Instead of reducing the item for investment in education, this example should be followed in other environments where the necessary working conditions and inclusion of students with disabilities are still an unfulfilled goal. The rebalance has 70 million denars less for the construction of primary schools and 20 million denars less for the construction and reconstruction of secondary schools. There is a decrease of 25 million denars in the item for dormitory renovation.
A closer look at the rebalance shows that the biggest cut from the item “Investments in Education” – 100 million denars – is in the construction and reconstruction of student dormitories. The condition of the student dormitories will remain an unresolved issue if another consecutive year falls short of spending money on their construction and reconstruction.
The question is why, if there is already room for money to shift from “education” to another sector, they do not resolve the issues in this sector that have bothered us for years? When planning the budget for next year, it would be useful for the Government and Parliament to take into account the opinions of those who are directly involved in these issues (directors of educational institutions and schools, teachers and professors, CSOs, experts).
The next state education budget must provide funds for inclusive and equal quality education for all students across the country; rebuilding infrastructure and improving school hygiene; textbooks for all subjects in all levels of education and in all languages of instruction, modernizing methods and teaching aids in schools; modernization and equipping of vocational high schools; providing access to contemporary world literature through various databases for students; scientific research and independent student research work; improving the dormitories and living conditions of the tenants; supporting the activities of high school communities and student parliaments; introduction of comprehensive sex education; support for non-formal educational activities; and many other needs.
It is especially important to invest in education in a planned way so that we can expect educated, satisfied and competent young people who will drive the society forward!
List of organizations that support this reaction:
– Youth Education Forum
– Foundation Open Society – Macedonia
– Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia
– Student organization at the Faculty of Law “Iustinianus Primus”
– Young European Federalists Association- Macedonia
– Metamorphosis Foundation
– Reactor – Research in Action
– Civic Association “RomaVersitas”
– Scout Association of Macedonia
– Center for Intercultural Dialogue – Kumanovo
– National Youth Council of Macedonia
– Union of Youth Work
– Step by step
– HERA Association for Health Education and Research