The Department of Basic Education has allocated R347.1 million to a new grant to help boost maths, science and technology education in South Africa.

Deputy minister Enver Surty announced the Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Grant at the National Council of Provinces in parliament this afternoon during the department’s budget vote speech for the 2015/16 financial year.

Overall, the department has set aside R21.5 billion, an increase of R1.8 billion from the past financial year’s budget of R19.7 billion.

“This Grant, an amalgamation of the Technical Schools Recapitalisation Grant and the Dinaledi Schools Grant, has been allocated a total of R1.1 billion over the 2015/16 to 2017/18 MTEF period,” Surty said.

The Technical Schools Recapitalisation Grant was established to improve conditions and modernise technical schools to meet the teaching requirements of learners in the technical fields, while the Dinaledi Schools Grant aims to increase the participation and performance of learners in maths and science and up the number of matriculants with university-entrance passes in the two subjects.

Back in March 2014, word was that the department was no longer as optimistic about the Dinaledi Grant as the number of grade 12s entering tertiary institutions was actually on the decline since the project began in 2001. This despite the fact that millions of rands had already been poured into it.

Surty also mentioned that the MST Grant would increase to R367.6 million in the 2016/17 financial year and R385.1 million in 2017/18 financial.

“The MST Grant will strengthen the implementation of the National Development Plan and the Action Plan to 2019 by increasing the number of learners taking mathematics, science and technology subjects, improving the success rate in the subjects, and improving teachers’ capabilities in teaching these three gateway subjects,” Surty said.