Departmental Programme and Budget; SABC on "Yizo Yizo'

Basic Education

26 March 2001
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Meeting report

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 March 2001
DEPARTMENT PROGRAMME & BUDGET; SABC ON YIZO YIZO

Chairperson: Prof S Mayatula

Documents handed out :
SABC Presentation on Yizo Yizo
Outline of Tirisano Year Two 2001/2
Notes for discussion of the Budget: Vote 14, Education

Other relevant documentation:
"Scared at School", Sexual Abuse in South African Schools, Human Rights Watch Report
Parliamentary committee meeting on the Human Rights Watch Report

SABC Panel: Mr Peter Mathlare (CEO: SABC), Ms.Thandi Chaane (Head of Yizo Yizo Outreach Programme), Nicola Galombik (Head of Education Television) and Siven Maslamoney (Editor: Youth, Adult and Public Education Programmes)

Department of Education delegation: Director General, Mr T Mseleku; Deputy Director General, Mr B Soobrayan; Deputy Director General for General Education, Mr Ihron Rensburg.

SUMMARY
The Committee discussed key issues with SABC representatives on the controversial Television series Yizo Yizo. The SABC emphasised that Yizo Yizo was a product of extensive research and that the programme aims to tell the real story in order to bridge the gap between parents and children so breaking the 'cycle of denial' of issues that affect young people in schools, particularly in black schools.

Major concerns voiced by the Committee included claims that Yizo Yizo is culturally insensitive in that it only depicted black people and that it could be construed that this is how blacks behave. There were also fears that children would not see the educational intention of the programme and simply mimic the bad behaviour they see on the screen. Some also saw a contradiction because of the Parental Guidance rating. Other members voiced support for the aims of the show in trying to bring issues out in to the open and create dialogue.

The second part of the meeting was the briefing by the Department on their 2001/02 Programme and Budget. Concerns were voiced by the Committee on the spending patterns of provincial departments, the quality of teachers, strategy for HIV/Aids and the implementation of sport programmes.

MINUTES
SABC Presentation on Yizo Yizo
The CEO, Mr Mathlare, said that the views expressed are those of the SABC Board which have been discussed at length with other stakeholders and are the result of an amalgamation of thought and effort.

The purpose of the briefing was to locate the television series 'Yizo Yizo' in the SABC's mandate to inform, educate and entertain. The core objective of the SABC is to play a role in the transformation of South Africa. The SABC is prepared to go where others have not, including commercial interests who do not share the SABC's Transformation agenda.

Mr Siven Maslomoney explained the background to the series. He said that after the Minister of Education unvelied Tirisano (Working Together), the SABC suggested Yizo Yizo 2 to bring back schools into the community as there was a realisation that the government alone cannot solve problems in education and that public involvement and participation was needed.

Research into the impact of Yizo Yizo showed that despite criticism, it attracted the largest audiences for a drama at that time and was seen as enlightening in that it promoted dialogue in schools, families and the media. Research also showed that Yizo Yizo 1 had contributed to breaking a cycle of ignorance and denial among parents as it brought real issues that young South Africans faced to the fore. There were concerns over the last series that young people watching the programme were being attracted to the life-styles of the 'bad' characters portrayed. Mr Maslomoney said however that subsequent research has shown that children can identify the difference between good and bad role models.

Research Findings
Mr Maslomoney said that one of the difficult objectives of education is to change people's attitudes. He said that research showed that 13% of learners, 11% of parents, 37% of principals and 25% of teachers changed their attitudes and that they took positive action as a result of watching Yizo Yizo 1.

Lessons from Yizo Yizo 1 and approaches to Yizo Yizo 2
Mr Maslomoney said that Yizo Yizo 2 focuses on the consequences of bad behaviour in order to avoid any glamourisation of the 'bad guy'. Each programme in Yizo Yizo 2 has a beginning and an end so that viewers get a message from each programme, unlike Yizo Yizo 1 which was a serial.

He said that the aim of Yizo Yizo 2 was to build and provide workable solutions to real problems and to get the community involved in education. The show promotes reading and literacy, community involvement in schools, highlights the importance of learning science and technology and deals with important social issues such as drug abuse.

Another aim from Yizo Yizo 2 is to highlight the professional challenges confronting education and the series focuses on teacher morale dealing with the conflict between teaching as a vocation and teaching as a profession.

Mr Maslomoney said that Yizo Yizo is designed to put issues of schooling on the national agenda and to stimulate public participation in the debate on these issues. The only time that the country as a whole focuses on education is when the matric results come out. Mr Maslomoney summed up the aims of Yizo Yizo:
-Provide new knowledge and confront denial
-Change entrenched attitudes and dispel myths.
-Promote dialogue amongst social actors
-Promote social action by modelling realistic and achievable actions that can be undertaken by communities.

Strategy/Approach on TV
Mr Maslomoney discussed how the TV programme would achieve its objectives:
- Confronting denial requires confronting real problems and sensitive issues and taking people out of their comfort zones.
- Promoting dialogue requires raising issues that trigger debate and discussion.
- Providing people with ideas and models for possible action requires the portrayal of achievable solutions.
- Motivating people to take action requires either getting audiences in touch with problems or demonstrating the benefits of action.

He said that unlike shows such as 'Take 5', Yizo Yizo is not about preaching messages. Rather, it intends to promote dialogue through story-telling.

Research
Mr Maslomoney said that deciding the content and the objectives of the show was not a random process but developed out of a careful research process. There were three main sources of research:
-Qualitative primary research involving in-depth interviews with experts, focus groups amongst audiences and participant observation in selected institutions.
-Consultations with various stakeholders
-Information obtained with University of the Witwatersrand's national review of research on educational issues.

Educational Messages
Mr Maslomoney said that the series attempts to deal with a range of issues, but that thirteen episodes cannot deal with the full spectrum of issues. There was also a realisation that TV cannot deal with everything. Briefly the educational messages are:
-Schools should be the centre of community life.
-A good teacher inspires and makes a difference to a student's life.
-Teachers are key agents of change. Good and committed teachers should be protected, valued and rewarded.
-Parents and teachers must deal with the problem of illiteracy among students together.
-Collective non-violent community action is an effective way to deal with crime.
-Crime doesn't pay.
-Science and technology opens doors and opportunities.
-Parents and students should communicate with each other.
-Schools must provide support to girls who have been raped.

Portrayal of Women
Mr Msalomoney said that the there were two key approaches of Yizo Yizo 2 in this regard. The first is to portray strong female characters and the second is dealing directly with issues that face young women in schools, particularly issues of rape and sexual abuse.

Portrayal of Prison
In line with showing young people the consequences of their actions as well as research that prison is not a deterrent to young people, Yizo Yizo attempts to show the humiliation and pain of being in prison. Mr Msalomoney said that the prison scenes were strong but not gratuitous and that the portrayals are related to the shows educational content. He said that he realises that there are varying opinions on what constitutes unacceptable explicitness, but that the makers of the show have achieved a balance between their intention and viewer sensitivity.
Mr Msalomoney said that the controversial prison sex scene is direct, but that it is short - it only lasts 16 seconds.

Outreach
Mr Msalomoney said that Yizo Yizo raises issues. He said that it is also the aim of the show to assist in facilitating and supporting dialogue and positive action at a community level. He outlind four elements:
-Print materials in the form of a stakeholder booklet, a youth magazine dealing with relevant issues, weekly articles in national newspapers on the content of the show that week.
-Radio talk shows dealing with the theme of the show the previous night featuring experts talking to the public, allowing the public to engage with the issues.
-An outreach programme, briefing stakeholders in advance on issues and content of the show.
-Other TV programmes such as 'Take 5' and 'Re a Bua' that deal with youth issues and schools.

Conclusion
Finally, Mr Msalomoney said that Yizo Yizo is a well considered broadcast strategy and is part of a global trend to use television to deal with key national priorities. He added that the show puts the issue in the public domain and offers opportunities for social actors in society to address otherwise neglected issues.

Discussion
Mr Mpontshane (IFP) said that Yizo Yizo was not culturally sensitive. He said that African people had been victims of research projects in the past that had assaulted their culture.

Mr Maslamoney said that in focusing on black schools, the intention is to tell a story that the majority of the population can relate to, with characters that look and act like the majority of viewers. The programme intends to show that there are role models who are not from Model C schools.

Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) said that the programme puts great responsibility on parents and teachers. He would be interested to know the distribution of the supplementary resources that accompany the show.

Mr Maslamoney said that the programme is not intended to insult people. There is a difference in the way that adults and young people speak and that the youth needed to be addressed in a meaningful and believable way.

Ms Chaane, Head of Yizo Yizo Outreach, said that they are addressing the issue of distribution and they realise that the national press cannot reach everywhere.

An ANC member said that Human Rights Watch Report just published has revealed shocking statistics and attitudes toward rape in our schools. According to the report, he said, rape is seen as a normal aspect of school life. He asked the board to elaborate on the anti-rape focus of the programme.

Ms Chaane said that rape carries with it a social stigma. She said that that the episode of a man being raped caused an uproar, whereas the rape of a girl does not elicit such a response. She said that there is a problem of denial in society. She said that the department has released a booklet of life-skills dealing with rape.

Mr Maslamoney agreed that rape is a central issue and concern. He said that in the research for the programme, the SABC worked with girls from Soweto who had been raped in order to understand what goes on and for community voices to be heard through the programme.

An ANC member said that not specifically dealing with HIV/Aids was a glaring omission from the series, especially the isolation experienced by young sufferers of HIV/ Aids.

Ms Galombik said that there had been a debate during the research process on how to deal with the issue of HIV/ Aids. She said that it was decided to focus on key issues and deal with them thoroughly instead of a lot of issues inadequately. She said that HIV/ Aids is part of a broad programme of the SABC and Yizo Yizo deals with issues related to HIV/ Aids in that it portrays the issues facing young people in entering sexual relationships, parents discussing sex with their children and the suffering and loss of a youth whose parents die of HIV/aids.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked what the target audience of Yizo Yizo is and sought clarity on the reason that the show is rated PG (parental guidance). He asked the reason why if a paricular group was not supposed to watch, then why were pamphlets being distributed and aimed at schools.

Ms. Galombik said that giving a show a PG rating was one thing, but it is ultimately the parents responsibility to decide on their childrens viewing. Mr Maslomoney said the target audience is high school children.

Ms Mathau from the NCOP said that it is high time that parents and communities faced realities in schools and stop hiding behind culture. She added that it is not only problems in schools, but children who do not even get to school and stay on the street all day.

An ANC member said that the scene of sodomy was a welcome deterrent to would be criminals. He asked to what extent are youth centres being used to help engage with issues and also added that the show was limited in terms of language, but realised that it would be difficult to put the message across in nine languages.

Mr Maslamoney said that the SABC is involved with Youth Centres, particularly the youth TV series, 'Take Five'.

Mr Ntuli (DP) asked how exactly the SABC proposes to interact with stakeholders.

Ms Chaane said that interaction with stakeholders was the result of twelve months of effort to bring them on board. She said that the zero-tolerance of teachers molesting girls was a result of these deliberations. School governing bodies are given two weeks ahead to deal with the debates that will arise out of the programme.

An ANC member said that values are at the mercy of the decadence of cultural imperialism and asked if the strategy of Yizo Yizo 2 was not a form of damage control for Yizo Yizo 1.

Mr Mathlare said with regards to cultural sensitivity that African culture has hidden many things and that it would be irresponsible not to bring them to the fore. Making issues look nice, clean and fresh would lose the reality of the issues. Ms. Galombik said that Yizo Yizo 2 was not damage control. She said it was not a sudden response to the debate around Yizo Yizo 1, rather there has been careful research and dialogue and that the outreach elements of the programme had been planned for eighteen months.

Finally one member complained that not enough research had been done in the rural areas. She said that she believes that older people, the people who pay for their children's education had been neglected in that they had not been consulted. She asserted that children would just do the things they see on the screen before they learn the educational message. She sadi that sex is and should remain a private act between people. She added that rural people should still be consulted, even if they are seen as conservative.

Mr Mathlare said that the issues raised by that member were critical. He said that the show is not about getting children to mimic the things they see on it. He agreed that perhaps the rural community had been left out and said that it is an opportunity to interface more meaningfully with these communities in the next series. He added finally that his team would always be willing to take advice from any quarter and there was no bias against conservatism.

Mr Maslamoney said that mimicry had been a concern in the early stages. However, research showed that children relate to television in a sophisticated manner and that young people can draw the distinction between good and bad. He said that the gap between young and old was not invented by Yizo Yizo, the aim of the programme is to bridge that gap. With regards to the charge that Yizo Yizo was biased against rural communities, Mr Maslamoney said that Yizo Yizo was not the only drama on television and that there are plans to do a drama set in rural communities.

Department Programmes
Mr Mseleku briefed the Committee on the Programme of Action. He said that the 2000/01 programme was based on broad systems issues whereas the 2001/02 programme marks a shift towards a targeted approach. He said that the shift is essential for four reasons:
- Overall government strategy has shifted toward targeted and integrated social service delivery.
- Adoption of the human Resource Development Strategy that targets raising the quality of general education and participation rates in further and higher education, maths, science, and technology and scrace and new skills.
- Matric improvement has brought hope and increased confidence and in the system. There is a need to find similar things to trigger hope.
- Most of the work undertaken in 2000 has been achieved and it is now time to look at the next steps.

What is the shift ?
-From an exclusively systematic focus to spatially targeted projects. This is essential for transformation and that projects must be linked to institutions in order to demonstrate how the system impacts on targets.
-From national policy statements to institutional change programmes. There are still pockets of problems that need to be addressed by targeting.
-From basic functionality to effectiveness and quality improvement.
-From doom and gloom to self-confidence and esteem building
-This will occur within the overall framework of Tirisano and will work within the nodal points identified in the Urban Renewal Programme and the Integrated Rural Development Strategy.
-Research into poverty have shown the areas of the greatest need that will be targeted.

Ten Projects for Spatial Targeting
HIV/Aids:
Has a three-prong focus:
-Raising awareness through life-skills programmes
-Examining the impact of HIV/Aids on education.
-Educating educators on HIV/Aids.

School Beautification:
Mr Mseleku said that safe and habitable schools would inspire confidence in the system and bring back pride to the school next door. A way of doing this is to mobilise people to paint, clean and look after school buildings. He also stressed that this area also includes school safety and said that more attention needs to be paid with regards to racism as there can be no security in a racist environment.

Talent Selection and Development Programmes:
Mr Mseleku said that the department feels that no talented students, especially if they are young, black and female should go without education. This sector of the population will be targeted to enhance representativeness and effectiveness in the economy. He added that there will be a focus on maths, science and technology, but that the arts would not be ignored.

Maths, Science and Technology
These three areas would receive greater attention in order to meet the resource needs of our country. Later in 2002/03, other gateway subjects such as arts, culture, sport, languages and accounting would receive priority.

Matric Improvement:
Schools which rated as 0-30% performers in the Matric exam results will be targeted, especially those in the nodal points identified in the Urban Renewal Programme and the Integrated Rural Development Strategy.

Values in Education:
The Department of Education plans to raise the debate around values being taught in schools into the public domain. He said that there is already consensus regarding the issue of featuring national symbols as part of school life, but more focused debate needs to occur in other areas such as whether the oath of allegiance should be a feature in schools.

Human Resource Development Strategy:
In line with government strategy, education must concentrate on producing students equipped with the necessary skills in a globalising world.

Learner Support Materials:
A lack of these materials has been identified as largely a problem of delivery. A big problem is that people given tenders to provide these materials do not deliver.

South African History Project:
Mr Mseleku said the place of history, particularly South African history has been neglected and that pre-1994 there was a sense that history is a waste of time. History is critical to reflect back and know what to avoid in the future. In line with this thinking, a report has been drafted suggesting how to give history back its rightful place.

Three System Level Priority Programmes
In addition to the ten target areas, there would still be an emphasis on these three broad areas:
- Establishing the foundation for the new General Education and Training Certificate at the end of education (Grade 9)
- Establishing the basis for a national Early Childhood Development Programme with emphasis on the reception year. He said that a discussion document would be ready soon to deal with this issue.
- Implementing the National Higher Education Plan.

Department Budget
Mr Soobrayan stated that the mandate of the National Department is enshrined in the Constitution and the National Education Act to set norms and standards for national education. Only a small portion of the budget allocated to education was spent nationally, with the rest being allocated to the provinces.

Mr Soobrayan explained that there were three streams of funding:
-Conditional grants
-Earmarked grants
-Donor funding

The role of the Department is to set conditions that the provinces must follow. The money itself is managed by the provinces. The bulk of funding goes to the provinces in the form of provincial block grants. The department does not make decisions on the budget, but works with the provinces in managing their budget. He reminded the Committee that only a tiny amount of the budget is retained by the national department and that one third of that is non-discretionary in that it is allocated to personnel expenditure.

Mr Soobrayan then went through some key areas of the budget (National Student Financial Aid Sheme, Conditional Grants and Earmarked Funds) with the Committee.

Discussion
One member asked for clarification on the HIV/Aids strategy.

Mr Rensburg replied that HIV/Aids forms part of the conditional grants to provinces. A clear three-pronged framework has been developed for provinces to follow.

Mr Vadi (ANC) said that it is common practice that when provincial departments realise they have a surplus, they go on a spending spree. He asked how the Department proposes to stop this happening. In connection with this, another ANC member asked to what extent is the national department ready to intervene in the provinces to make sure national policy is being carried out.

Mr Mseleku said that the cash flow of provincial departments is being monitored, but there is no jurisdiction of the national department to regulate provincial cash flow. He said that a problem is the tendency of provincial departments to see money they have not spent 'savings' rather than underexpenditure. The other problem is what he called the 'hotel phenomenon', where Departments suddenly realise the need to go on conferences and stay in fancy hotels.
Mr Soobrayan said that the main problem that provincial departments have is in terms of predictability of spending. He said that provincial officers and co-ordinators are in the process of being appointed to assist provincial departments.

An ANC member asked when the funding for the Higher Education Plan would be announced.

Mr Soobrayan said that it will be announced the following Friday.

Ms. Gandhi (ANC) expressed concern that there was no clear policy on sport. She also asked how far the building projects initiated in 1997 had got.

Mr Mseleku said that there is still not clarity on the roles of the Education Department and the Department of Sport and Recreation, but a co-ordinating facility is being established.

Mr Geldenhuys (NP) said that making schools gun-free zones would be too expensive as it would require expensive equipment such as metal detectors.

Mr Mseleku said that making schools safe and gun-free is a matter of instilling community consciousness and that an ethos in communities must be developed to protect schools. In some schools, such as those plagued by gangsterism in the Western Cape would need equipment such as metal detectors. Mr Rensburg added that the Department is working closely with the South African Police Service on this. The focus of the Department is on behavioural change and controlling access to schools.

Mr Ntuli (DP) said that while he feels that the department has made a turn for the better, he feels that the programme is more quantitative than qualitative. Outcomes based curricula are already in place but we have a shortage of qualified teachers.

An ANC member re-iterated this concern with teacher training. He asked if it was possible for the Department to explain the R6,5 million increase to NSFAS in terms of how many students supported under the scheme. He also asked what is different about the schools being targeted. He said that in rural areas schools have no facilities to encourage science and that incentives should be given to students to study science. With regards to the talent search, he said that it is important that there must be counsellors in schools, particularly the rural areas to identify talent and guide bright students.

Mr Mseleku said that figures are available for the amount of students receiving assistance under NSFAS. He added that the scheme is under review in that in a bid to help as many students as possible, some students might still require supplementation and fall out of the system and there is a notion that it may be better to focus on less students.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked where the money for teacher education had been allocated in the budget.

Mr Mseleku said that R20 million had been set aside to train teachers

Mr Mpontshane asked what the Department is doing about the professionalism of teachers.

Mr Mseleku said that teacher development is a priority. There is a national conference in July dealing with this issue and there are plans to introduce a national diploma to improve the quality of teachers. Mr Rensburg added that a strategy is in place to improve teachers in the eighteen nodal points incorporating 2800 schools. At a system level the national professional diploma is expected to train 10 000 teachers out of the 85 000 who it is suspected are under-qualified. He said that 150 teachers in each province are being targeted to improve maths and science. Another plan is the national evaluation strategy to assess the standards of teaching in schools. Evaluators are in the process of being recruited and trained. Finally Curriculum 2005 will itself improve quality as it sets quality goals.

The Chair noted that he saw a discrepancy between the amount of NSFAS money discussed and that amount allocated in the document. He suggested that the Committee should be invited to assist the Department in monitoring schools. He also asked for a clearer idea of the target schools.

Mr Mseleku said that the figure in the document reflects what is being allocated and does not account for the money that has accrued. He said that the Portfolio Committee would be invited to assist with the Human Resource Development Strategy. He added that members will be notified of the eighteen schools chosen as targets.

The meeting was adjourned.

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