The two Education Committees continued discussed the remaining three priorities set by the Minister which were: Quality Improvement, Health Promotion and Institutional Development. Thereafter the Department presented its achievements and challenges for its six programmes: Administration, System Planning and Monitoring, General Education, Further Education and Training, Social and School Enrichment and Higher Education. It looked at its Annual Financial Statement and noted that under-spending had been extremely slight. . The Department had received an award from the South African Institute of Government Auditors for the best annual report out of all national departments. It had received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor-General for five consecutive years.
Members asked if the Department had completed its investigation into inclusive education and if the Department's decision to include learners with special needs into the mainstream education was the right decision, what had to be done to improve results to a satisfactory level and what the reasons were for the country not receiving quality education. Members asked who would head the Foundations for Learning Campaign, what the rationale was for involving unions in the campaign, whether “Form 450” and the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) was still used and monitored. The Committee noted that racism still plagued schools across the country. Other questions and comments included:
▪ whether trade unions, in their actions today, were serving the better interests of learners
▪ the need for basic health screening in schools
▪ to what extent schools screened for basic cognitive development problems
▪ what about introducing “production diploma schools” for those trained to work with their hands.
▪ what was the link between Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Basic Education
▪ what were the targets for building or improving libraries in schools
▪ whether the Department would consider bringing exit exams back into the school system
▪ what progress the Department had made in the governance model for FET colleges
▪ how did institutions linked to the Department account to it
▪ how additional funding would be used to reduce the learner-educator ratio
▪ how it monitored distribution of examination papers to schools to avoid stolen and leaked papers.
The Committees commended the Department for ensuring all its officials signed performance agreements and the Deputy-General’s leadership ability for a clean audit report over the past five years. Members noted that if one looked at the Department's financials and compliance, all seemed well. However, the performance outcomes for the education sector were not good. Having a good administration did not necessarily translate into a good performance. The Committees pondered the reasons for the country not receiving quality education.
Priority 3: Quality Improvement
Mr Duncan Hindle, Director-General, stated that this was the third of the Minister's priorities and looked at early childhood development, inclusive education, the Foundations for Learning Campaign, systematic evaluation and Whole School Evaluation (WSE).
700 000 five year olds were registered for Grade R education in January 2009 to increase access to Grade R programmes. Bags and reading books were distributed to Grade R and 1 learners in the Eastern Cape and Free State. An investigation was conducted in provinces to determine the implementation of inclusive education and a tender was awarded for procurement and distribution of assistive devices. A Foundation for Learning campaign was launched in 2008 to promote literacy and numeracy in primary schools. The Department also focused on the prioritisation of the expansion and strengthening of the systematic evaluation and distribution of instruments as part of the reading toolkits for teachers. A generic School Improvement Plan (SIP) was developed and newly appointed supervisors were appropriately trained in terms of the WSE policy.
Ms J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) noted that ‘inclusive education’ was still an issue for many people. She asked if the Department had completed its investigation into inclusive education. If so, what were the results? She asked if the Department's decision to include learners with special needs into the mainstream education was the right decision. She also looked at systemic evaluation and asked what had to be done to improve results to a satisfactory level.
Chairperson Fransman added to this asking what the reasons were for the country not receiving quality education.
Mr Hindle stated that the White Paper had set itself a target for 2020 so the Department knew it was going to be a long road to travel concerning learners with special needs. In terms of mainstreaming these learners, there were different views on the issue. The Department leaned strongly towards pushing for mainstreaming. They put a lot effort and focus into ensuring that learners were mainstreamed and put into ordinary public schools if they could be. District Support Teams (DSTs) were created to support schools that were trying to do this. He thought that, in broad terms, this was the correct policy to implement. Learners that could be taught together with other “ordinary” learners had to be placed in mainstream schools. After the first five years of the White Paper and policy being pursued, the Department realised that there were gaps in the system. The gaps regarded former special needs schools that were being neglected in favour of the mainstreaming approach. Mainstreaming was still the preferred policy; however, in the past two or three years, the Department recognised the need to invest heavily in special needs schools.
Mr Hindle stated that the investigation into inclusive education was completed and the results were “uneven”. There were provinces that invested heavily into these special schools and were provided with special facilities, and there were schools in poorer provinces that were in a severe state of neglect. The Department would share the report with the Committee. He suggested that the Department visit some of these schools as part of their oversight duties.
In terms of systemic evaluation, the Department had published a report on evaluations that were conducted. These results could be used at a national, provincial and district level. The Department needed to provide greater clarity on what it expected from schools on a daily basis. The Department tried to do this with the Foundations for Learning Campaign and the guidance given from the programme was critical. Workbooks written by the Department would also be given to Grade 1-6 learners that would correlate with lesson plans provided by the Department for educators. This was the most cost effective way for quality improvement. Educators would also be spending more time teaching and less time with administrative duties. A Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) was also launched in 2008. The campaign was designed to turn education into a societal matter. Teacher unions, governing bodies, community representatives, student leaders and student formations were involved in the campaign. The campaign also focused on building up public expectations of what was needed in schools. The Department would do everything it could to see the campaign grounded in schools. The Department was also looking at the idea of a “badge” or award for schools that would indicate that they were quality schools.
Chairperson Fransman asked who would head the campaign in the Department.
Mr Hindle stated that Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director-General in the Office of the Director-General, was in charge of the campaign; however, a project manager was just appointed to head the campaign.
Ms Carelse stated that she was asked to coordinate the launch of the campaign in October. The campaign was growing at a steady and slow pace. In terms of the unions' “buy-in” to the campaign, there was a student committee that comprised of the principals of all the unions who would meet on a regular basis to plan the campaign. A business plan was being developed and funding was being secured through the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). A number of business stakeholders were on board and would begin to support the campaign in practical terms. There were a number of requests for the Department to look at the quality status of schools. This would be happening in the remainder of this quarter and the Department was looking at 2010 as being the time for the official re-launch of the campaign. The Department also worked with district officials to ensure that all the provinces launched the campaign.
Mr A Mapontshane (IFP) asked what the rationale was for involving unions in the campaign. One of the hindrances to achieving quality education was what some of the unions were doing.
Chairperson Fransman assured the Member that the Department was not being controlled by the unions.
Mr Mapontshane understood this and that was why he wanted to know why the Department was urging the unions to “buy-in” to the campaign.
Ms Carelse stated that the former Education Minister was wise when she invited all these stakeholders to the meeting where the campaign was initiated. The country needed to acknowledge the existence of the unions as a very critical stakeholder in schools. She acknowledged that the Member was correct in saying that a number of union members could possibly violate the aims of the campaign; however, the Department had seen a consistent effort on the part of all the unions to help with the campaign. The unions and teachers were committed to this process. The Department could not run the campaign alone, as they were partners with the schools in the country and everybody had to “buy-in” to the campaign.
Mr D Smiles (DA) noted that the Department would do the monitoring and evaluation of the campaign, not the unions. This meant that it was the department officials and school educators that had to do the work. In terms of monitoring and evaluation of the campaign, the schools inspectors had to get the information from the teachers.
Mr Hindle stated that the QLTC was in no way displacing normal departmental procedures in terms of monitoring and evaluation, and work being done in schools. This would all be done by the Department and district managers. This was about a system of social mobilisation that would ensure that departmental processes were happening and that district managers were doing their jobs.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) stated that it was excellent to have unions involved, as once they were involved they owned the process. If the unions were left out, the educators would be left out. The country needed to give the unions the benefit of the doubt.
Mr Mpontshane stated there was a “Form 450” that schools had to fill out every time learners failed a class. This form created a lot of problems as a form had to be completed for each and every child explaining the failure. It also encouraged fraud as teachers grew tired of completing the forms and passed all the learners. He asked if this form was still in use. There was also something called the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) that assessed educators’ performance. This was done by a peer or an official. If the educator satisfied the requirements, a 1% increase in salary would follow. The educator also had to indicate the areas where s/he was lacking and wanted to improve. However, there was no follow up on this. He asked if the Department was going to follow up on this so that the form could serve the purpose it was intended for.
Mr Hindle stated that he was not sure of “Form 450”; he would have to find more information on it. It could be a provincial form. If this was one of the administrative burdens, then hopefully it would have been done away with. In terms of the IQMS, it was about peer evaluation. Nearly one hundred IQMS moderators had been appointed. These were people who had been in education before, both retired principals and educators, that were brought back as IQMS moderators. They went from school to school to check on the internal moderators. They also provided the Department with interesting information about how schools were functioning and the quality of their work. The follow-up on IQMS was critical in evaluating development needs.
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) commented that trade unions were important stakeholders. Turning to another subject, he said that a school in the Northern Cape suspended five Grade 5 learners for “misconduct”. The school would not tell the mothers of these children any more information other than the learners were suspended for misconduct. The Member spoke to the Department of Education in the province as well as the school, and eventually the suspension was lifted. The schools principal was still adamant that the learners had to be suspended. There was also an incident where a white learner hit a black learner and the black learner was expelled from the school. He did not know how the campaign was working. The Department had to deal with this situation.
Mr Hindle stated that racism still plagued schools across the country. He asked the Member to follow the issue up with the provincial department to ensure they were dealing with the problem properly. If the Member felt they were not, he was welcome to bring it to the Department.
Mr W James (DA) stated that the unions played a powerful role in obtaining rights for people working in particular professions. This had to be acknowledged and admired; however, the question one had to ask was whether trade unions, in their actions today, were serving the better interests of the learners. In his experience, he knew that they did not always do so.
Mr Hindle stated that there were different trade unions; however, most had been perceived as having been obstacles to change in the country. He invited people to “keep their eyes and ears on the ground”. There were strong statements from most unions about the need for quality education.
Priority 4: Health Promotion
The Department stated that a Life Skills Programme was implemented in schools and support was provided to learners and communities infected and affected by HIV/Aids and other health challenges.
Chairperson Chohan addressed basic screening in schools. She was aware that there were enormous problems with basic health issues in some provinces. She knew that the Department was involved in various nutrition programmes for schools and this was highly commendable; however, it did not help if there was not basic screening in schools. There could be children who were not starving but were suffering from other very basic ailments that thwarted the ability to learn. She did not know why there was not a national policy regarding screening of learners at a very basic learning stage regarding eyes, ears and so on. She wondered to what extent schools screened for basic cognitive development problems and to what extent the Department was looking towards this kind of screening.
Ms Gugu Ndebele, Deputy Director-General: Social and School Enrichment, stated that the Department had programmes that were taken to different provinces for this purpose; however, they were very irregular and unstructured. As part of the plan for 2010, the Department would be implementing screening for Grade R and Grade 1 learners in Quintile One schools. There was a resource issue, both financially and in terms of capacity; however, the Department was working with the Department of Health (DoH) on the project and they identified screening for teeth, eyes, ears and de-worming. By the end of the 2010 financial year, all Grade Rs and Grade 1s in Quintile One schools would be screened.
Mr Hindle added that the Department had created a programme called Screening Identification and Support (SIAS) that was meant to assist remedial teachers and “ordinary” teachers in identifying children with special needs.
Chairperson Fransman stated that he could see there were not regular engagements between the DoH and the DoBE. Screening could not just be on an ad hoc basis. He knew there would be limited resources but thought that there could be a campaign to bring public and private stakeholders on board.
Ms Mushwana stated that people needed to accept that there were learners that would not be able to pass matric due to serious learning challenges. These learners would need to learn skills and this would have to come from the Departments of Education. There were “production schools” in other countries where diplomas were given to those trained to work with their hands. This was a proposal that the Department had to consider.
Mr Hindle stated that the matter here was linked to the issue of guidance in terms of subject choices and the type of institutions learners should attend. The Department did not believe that adequate guidance was given concerning these matters; guidance was now a priority for the Funza Lushaka Bursary. The Department was striving to get more guidance teachers into schools. He thought that it had to be accepted that matric was a basic minimum qualification that everybody had to get as twelve years of schooling made an enormous difference to all sorts of “life chances” thereafter. He would hate to be telling a child from an early age they were not likely to get a matric qualification so they had to attend a production school.
Chairperson Fransman asked what the link was between the Department of Sport and Recreation (DoSR) and the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) in terms of the alignment around sport in schools.
Ms Ndebele stated that the Department was working with the DoSR on a joint calendar for school sports that was being implemented. There were challenges such as financial constraints which stopped them from funding certain activities, however, a joint policy was being finalised on schools sports.
Ms M Kubayi (ANC) asked what the targets were for building or improving libraries in schools. She asked if the Department met the targets and if not, why.
Mr Hindle stated that he could not say that there were particular targets; however, libraries were part of the Department's broader investment into infrastructure in schools.
Mr Firoz Patel, Deputy Director-General: Systems Monitoring and Planning, stated that due to large backlogs in school infrastructure there was no provision for special facilities for schools; however, for the 2009/10 financial year provinces have targeted 159 schools for library facilities
Ms Kloppers-Lourens stated that the Committee had been given a report on teenage pregnancy and it was mentioned that mothers were welcomed back into the education system. She wondered how this affected the other learners as it was obvious the mothers were sexually active. The report was based merely on a literacy study and did not provide one with this kind of information. She asked if the Department was planning on doing a full research project on this crucial issue.
Ms Ndebele stated that the report looked at literacy; however, if there was anything that came from the report that needed further researching, the Department would do so. The Department was more focused on ensuring that the recommendations of the study were being implemented.
Mr Hindle added that there was clear evidence that the sooner one could get a mother back into school, the better chance one had of preventing a second pregnancy. The benefits of going back to school were undoubtedly good for the mother.
Chairperson Fransman stated that the Committee on Higher Education and Training had visited Giyani and there was a school there that had a language library and resource centre. However, just down the road there was a school that did not have any facilities whatsoever. The Committee could not understand why these schools and the education centre in the district itself were not communicating with one another. There had to be more areas like this in the country. The Department had to go out and assist these situations.
Priority 5: Institutional Development
A draft policy had been developed on the roles and responsibilities of districts. It looked at the harmonisation of structures, job descriptions and responsibilities for district officials. In terms of Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, the Department developed a framework on Student Support Services and a national register of private FET colleges had been published during this period. The Department supported Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with systems settings to improve regulatory support, academic and research support to institutional structures, councils and other constituencies.
Mr G Boinamo (DA) stated that there were exit exams in the past that used to keep the learners on their “toes” and encourage them to perform better. It would also prepare them for Grade 12. Since the discontinuation of these exams, there was a decline in performance of learners. Would the Department consider re-introducing the exit exam? One of the goals was to increase the number of Further Education and Training (FET) learners. He asked if this included learners who dropped out of schools between Grade 8 and 11 or only learners that passed matric. If so, what happened to learners that did not pass matric? He wanted to know if the Department achieved its intentions for Dinaledi Schools and if the number of Dinaledi Schools would be increasing beyond 500.
Mr Hindle stated that there were now national assessments, which were national examinations at Grade 3, 6 and 9 levels. All these were based on a national test. The only difference was that these exams were not referred to as entrance exams; they were seen as progress assessments.
Mr Edward Mosuwe, Acting Deputy Director-General: FET, noted that the nation had set itself a target that there would be 50 000 learners passing mathematics at the higher grade level in 2008. The country was able to surpass this number. In this context there was significant movement in terms of the number of learners that passed mathematics in the system. There was also significant movement in the sense that the Department was making progress in certain areas. The 500 Dinaledi schools made up 7% of the total number of secondary schools in the country. Their actual contribution to the total number of learners that passed mathematics with 50% and above in 2008 was 24%. This was highly significant in terms of the contribution they made. There was evidence of good performance emanating from Dinaledi schools. Dinaledi schools were, on an annual basis, externally monitored by a team of retired educators and researchers and this showed what kind of support the schools required. However, resourcing Dinaledi schools had always been a challenge because many of the accomplishments in Dinaledi Schools were as a result of the kind of support that was provided. Provisions to Dinaledi schools were inadequate.
Ms A Mashishi (ANC) wanted clarity on the draft policy for the roles and responsibilities of the districts. She asked if the districts were monitored.
Mr Hindle replied that the policy was a draft policy; therefore it still had to go through the consultative processes. The policy was not being monitored at this stage. The policy was drawn up based on some empirical research about the state of districts across the country.
Mr James noted that FET colleges were identified as the new avenue of major growth. He was going to have the first of a number of engagements with the Minister of Higher Education and Training regarding the governance model for FET. It was funded by provinces up until now but the Minister wanted to see it run more centrally; however, there were advantages to having a model that allowed for regional strength and national direction. There needed to be clarity on this. He asked the Department what progress they had made in confirming what the governance model would be. He noted that the Department had finished the recapitalisation programme. He asked if there would be an increase in the density of students in the existing infrastructure and what the plans were for expanding the programme especially during the recession where budget allocations were severely limiting in terms of growth. He had a particular interest in knowing what the thinking was around the “match” between the universities of technology in particular and the economic growth pattern in the future.
Mr Hindle presumed that Mr James would resolve the issue of the governance model for FET colleges with the Minister through the Chairperson. The Department was discussing the principle that the governance model of any institutional form needed to be appropriate to the purpose of that form. As the Department moved forward and started clarifying more of these issues, the final model would emerge within that particular context.
In terms of the match between the way in which the universities of technology would fit into the economic trajectory of the country, one of the core instruments for the steering of the system that was instituted in early 2000 was to ensure that the system was planned appropriately so that it was responsive to national economic and social needs. The primary instrument that was used was both setting enrolment and graduate output targets. Part of what informed this was the National Human Resource Development Strategy, the Industrial Strategy and the Medium Term Strategic Framework of Government. This would ensure that what the country wanted going forward informed the choices that were made today. It took time for the country to respond to particular needs. The Department had already prioritised three key areas, given the direction the economy was going. These included engineering, sciences and the built environment. Significant investment was being given for capital infrastructure such as houses and roads. Health sciences were also important areas to invest in, in order to sustain social services.
Mr Mosuwe stated that the Department wanted to expand as a result of the recapitalisation programme through their enrolment planning processes to a million students over time.
The Department, in collaboration with FET colleges in all provinces, made sure that dedicated student support services were provided.
Ms Kubayi understood there was joint work between the Department and law enforcement agencies. She asked for what this agreement was.
Mr Hindle answered that the Department of Safety and Security (DoSS) asked the DoBE if they could use FET colleges to train safety and security officers. It was not a law enforcement agreement; it was a training programme.
Ms Kubayi stated that page 152 of the Annual Report spoke on student complaints and achievements. It also spoke of meetings with law enforcement agencies. She asked why law enforcement agencies were involved in institutions if it related to student complaints.
Mr Mosuwe stated that the South African Police Service (SAPS) approached the Department to develop a programme along the lines of the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) programmes for the training of members of the SAPS. This was the only way the Department had dealt with law enforcement.
Mr Hindle stated that it seemed that everybody was misreading the statement in the Annual Report. Page 152 spoke of private FET colleges and the complaints were from students who wanted to write exams and found their institution was not registered. The reference in the Report was about what the Department would say to these law enforcement agencies regarding the handling and prosecution of those in charge of the colleges. The issue was about how the Department could enforce compliance with the FET Act with regard to private FET college registration.
Mr Mosuwe stated that there was a process put in place that ensured that learners were protected from “fly by night” institutions. The process would direct any complaints about colleges that were not registered to the Department and the SAPS.
Ms N Vukuza (COPE) stated that she could feel a “split” between Higher Education (HE) and FET sectors. One could pick up from the Annual Report that there was less information on HE. The Report also showed aspects of achievements versus challenges. It was difficult for the Members to have a sense of the Department's achievements if these achievements were not presented against set targets. There was nothing as “dangerous” as a country whose education was in transition. The Department had to present its Annual Report against a Five-Year Plan so that officials could tell Members what they did or did not do. She also stated that the Department and the Committee had to protect the country against each minister coming into power and effecting changes all the time. She wished the Department had focused more on under-expenditure issues as it was a very frustrating matter.
Chairperson Fransman stated that the Committee knew that there were serious problems with FET colleges. The Committee also knew there was an anomaly when it came to the focus on post-schooling and to what institutions the government was able to give support. In terms of higher education, there was a 44% failure rate and quite a high drop-out rate. This was a serious problem.
Mr Hindle endorsed these comments on FET colleges and stated that the Department would take their advice on areas the Committee thought were problems. He was more concerned about comments about the nature of the Report, and assured the Members that it contained both a one-year operational plan as well as a five-year plan. The Department reported against the one-year operational plan and this plan had very clear performance indicators that spoke to numbers and targets. The Annual Report spoke about whether the targets were achieved or not. He informed the Committee that the DoBE had received an award from the South African Institute of Government Auditors for the best annual report out of all national departments.
Departmental Highlights, Achievements and Challenges
Programme 1: Administration
In terms of international relations, the Department strengthened the country’s solidarity and leadership in education in Africa through bilateral, multilateral and outreach initiatives. They also forged collaboration in education between South Africa and countries from the south.
Programme 2: System Planning and Monitoring
The national norms and standards for school infrastructure were completed and the target of 60% of learners in “no fee” schools was achieved. Funding norms for FET colleges were approved by the Minister of Finance. The education bids regarding Grade R and other facilities such as library and laboratory infrastructure were approved. Additional funding was made available to reduce the learner-educator ratio. The Department noted that there was a lack of responsiveness from provinces in terms of submitting information and that provincial governments were reluctant to honour the Medium-Term Budget Policy (MTBP) statement in full whereby funds were allocated to other identified priorities.
Programme 3: General Education
700 000 learners were registered in Grade R classes at public and independent schools as well as community centres at the beginning of 2009. An investigation was carried out to check the readiness of provinces in the implementation of the Inclusive Education policy. An audit of districts’ abilities was conducted; including the development of plans to resource them, approval of the policy on the organisation, and the roles and responsibilities to improve learner achievements. The Teacher Recruitment Campaign led to an increase in applications of 50-100%. A stable system of monitoring and tracking learning outcomes was established. The Department monitored school performance in nine critical areas and provided them with evaluation feedback for further improvement.
Programme 4: Further Education and Training
The Department developed exemplar exam papers for high enrolment subjects and trained and supported subject advisors and teachers. FET colleges reached targets for student enrolment in the NCV programme and 105 000 students enrolled at 50 public FET colleges. The Department noted that there was inadequate funding to support the Second Chance Grade 12 learners. Support given to Grade 12 learners and teachers was poor.
Programme 5: Social and School Enrichment
The Department supported schools that experienced high levels of crime and violence so that they could become safe and caring institutions. The Department increased the participation and success rates of girls in gateway subjects and prevented barriers to equity and access for girls in the education system through development of guidelines for sexual harassment, learner pregnancy and teacher support workshops. The access and retention of learners in rural areas was enhanced by developing a National Framework for Quality Education in rural areas. The Department reviewed the Adult Education and Training (AET) programme and the implementation of the Mass Literacy Campaign. This was done through the review of the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) system.
Programme 6: Higher Education
The Department provided regulatory support, academic and research support, as well as institutional support to higher education institutes (HEIs). The Department wanted to strengthen planning to support the delivery of quality graduates required for the country’s social and economic development.
Ms Kubayi commended the Department for ensuring that all its officials signed performance agreements. She stated that there was a need to start auditing the performance of officials. She asked if there was any member from the senior management that did not perform according to their contract and what the steps were for dealing with the problem. She noted that some of the Department's programmes dealt with international agreements. She asked what value the country was getting out of the agreements.
Chairperson Fransman addressed performance agreements and appraisals. He understood that this was a quarterly assessment. He did not see this in this in the Report.
Mr Hindle stated that the performance agreements were all signed as required. The Department also had 100% compliance on the Declaration of Interests form. The Department agreed that it was not just about financial audits; it was about performance audits as well. The Department also had a very rigorous performance management and development system that was carried out every year to get a sense of the Department's, as well as individual performance. He admitted that the quarterly reviews were not as well done as they were supposed to be. Even the Auditor-General commented that they were not being submitted on time. This was something the Department was working on.
In terms of international agreements and the value the country was getting from this, the country also had a responsibility in relation to its position on the continent. It was not just about what South Africa could get out of the agreement but also about what they could give back. There were a number of foreign students studying in the country that paid local rates and this, effectively, was costing the country an enormous amount of money. This was an important part of what South Africa did for other countries. The country also provided technical support to other countries as well. South Africa also received technical support from other countries. The EU recently allocated R1.2 billion to South Africa over the next three years for basic education.
Ms N Gina (ANC) addressed Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET). She understood that the National Qualification Level (NQF) Level Four was equivalent to a matric pass. She asked if there was an agreement with HEIs that learners with an ABET NQF level four qualification could go directly to universities.
Mr Hindle stated that the Member might be a little confused. There was an ABET level four qualification that was only equivalent to an NQF level one or a Grade 9 level. One would need NQF level four as an equivalent to matric.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) wanted an understanding of how institutions that were linked to the Department accounted to the Department.
Mr Hindle stated that there were five statutory bodies that reported to the old Department of Education. They would now be split between the DoBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET). Each of them had governing boards or councils, but all were under the remit of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). In terms of these requirements, the bodies had to report to the Department on a quarterly basis. They also had to table an annual report with the Department, the reports would be scrutinised and the Department would then brief the Minister on the institutions' progress.
Mr Radebe G (ANC) asked how the Department ensured the monitoring of the distribution of examination papers to schools, as there had been many stolen and leaked papers. He asked what the Department was doing to prevent this from happening again.
Mr Hindle stated that having a national examination was a high risk project because if the paper got leaked or stolen, there were national implications. There was a contingency plan in that a second paper was always produced in case this happened, but it was released at great additional cost because about 400 000 exam papers had to be printed. This was a huge problem as a cost of a little leak could result in a R100 million additional expense.
Mr Smiles addressed the additional funding that would be used to reduce the learner-educator ratio. He asked the Department for information on this and what the impact was on the additional funding.
Mr Patel answered that the 2009 Medium Term Budget Policy statement the Department asked that the funds allocated would start 1 April 2010. There was R1.8 billion allocated to the project that would see a 3% increase in the number of educators being employed. This would reduce the learner-educator ratio by creating approximately 10 000 new posts.
Ms Kubayi asked the Department for more information about their staff turnover, vacancy rate and resignations. She asked if any member of the Department had faced any disciplinary hearings in the 2008/09 financial year.
Mr Hindle stated that there were no officials that faced disciplinary action in the year under review.
Ms Kloppers-Lourens noted that Mr Hindle stated that the leakage of examination papers could result in an additional cost of R100 million. She asked what exactly happened when the exam papers got leaked in Mpumalanga, if it happened at district level and how the teacher got access to the paper. She wanted to know what would happen if the second paper was leaked.
Mr Hindle stated that the R100 million was just an estimate but the Department could come back to the Committee with an actual cost. Printing of exam papers were done at provincial level, therefore leaks affected provinces, specifically poorer provinces. He could not give the Committee the full story yet as the matter was still being investigated. There was no third paper in case the second paper was leaked. They had to hope that the second paper would not be leaked. The papers had to be given to schools before the time. This was how the teacher got hold of the paper. It seemed to be a case of negligence.
Annual Financial Statements
The Department had spent 99.8% of its total allocation. They also compared fund allocations to expenditure per programme. Here, 99.8% of the fund allocation was spent. The Department only drew attention to two programmes where under-spending occurred.
Under-spending occurred in the General Education Programme when R25.204 million was not spent. The Department explained it was because of the withholding of a transfer payment to Limpopo in respect of an HIV/Aids project. The condition of the HIV/Aids conditional grant required that the province provide the Department with a quarterly report for the work they had done on the ground and the exact spending on it. The province did not supply the report and the grant was not transferred. This situation was rectified recently and the National Treasury has approved the rollover of the money. Under-expenditure also occurred with Programme 6: Higher Education where R7.143 million was not spent. This was a financial matter where a case of interest and redemption being claimed, was less than projected.
Under-spending in the other Departmental programmes could be attributed to technical issues.
The Department received an unqualified report from the Auditor-General. Matters of Emphasis raised by the Auditor-General focused on performance information. The Auditor-General found that there was inadequate quarterly reporting on performance information and he questioned the usefulness and reliability of the performance information.
Chairperson Fransman noted that there were problems around performance analysis. In general, the Department complied with the Auditor-General's rules.
Chairperson Chohan noted that the Department had received an unqualified report for many years. This said a lot about Mr Hindle's leadership ability. She noted that there was inadequate quarterly reporting on performance information. The Committee had asked about this before and was told that the problem was not about late reports; it was because reports could not be found. She was not sure about this.
Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, stated that the Auditor-General was referring to the second quarterly report for 2008/09. It was submitted to the Auditor-General; however, there were two branches within the Department that did not submit their inputs timeously. This was brought to the attention of the Minister who took steps against the two branches. The matter had been corrected.
Chairperson Chohan stated that she found it useful when the Department accounted to the Committee and made Members aware of matters of priority that were not funded. She suggested that the Department could make a list of unfunded mandates and submit it to the Committee so that Members could have a sense of what the Department was not able to achieve.
Mr Hindle stated that the Department had spoken to the Select Committee on Appropriations where they indicated the areas where more assistance was needed.
Chairperson Fransman asked the Department how many times they had received unqualified reports.
Mr Hindle answered that since he had been in office, for the past five years, the Department had received unqualified reports. One or two unqualified reports had also been achieved before he came into the office.
Chairperson Fransman stated that if one looked at the Department's financials and compliance with the Auditor-General's rules, all seemed well. However, one had to look at outcomes regarding the education sector. The outcomes were not good. This related to the performance auditing side of things. The Department could comply; however, this did not mean that the Department performance was good. There were certain things the Department had to follow up on.
Mr Makhubele stated that there was another key issue. Often when the Department transferred money to provinces, the money was not used for what it was meant for. This was an issue of monitoring that had to be looked at.
Mr Hindle stated that the National Department did not transfer the money, National Treasury did. The Department transferred conditional grants, which were only transferred for a particular purpose and were monitored very closely. The Department could only do what it was mandated to do. He agreed that the Chairperson had a point. He added that having a bad administration could contribute to a bad performance, and having a good administration did not necessarily translate into a good performance.
Chairperson Fransman thanked the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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