Public Hearings on Division of Revenue Bill: Departments of Basic Education & Higher Education

Standing Committee on Appropriations

25 February 2010
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education explained that three Departments, Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, and Education, were coexisting under one budget for the duration of the present financial year, 2009-2010. Each Department was obliged by law to maintain a certain capacity to deal with various functions, in particular financial and supply chain management aspects. The Department might experience budget constraints from the 2010-2011 financial year since no additional funds had been allocated for its establishment. Medium Term Expenditure Framework amounts for all components had been split in agreed ratios between Basic Education and Higher Education and Training. Operational costs of directorates or components had been allocated according to specific requirements. An available balance was reserved for projects. Programmes in the 2010 Estimates of National Expenditure were Administration (R252.8 million); Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring (R1 354.3 million); Teacher and Education Human Resources Development and Management (R513.7 million); Planning, Quality Assessment and Monitoring and Evaluation (R148.7 million); and Social Responsibility (R3 896.7 million). Of the Department’s five programmes, the third, Education Human Resources Development and Management, was highly important since the salaries of teachers consumed 80% of the Department of Basic Education’s budget. The fourth, Planning, Quality Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation, reflected the State of the Nation Address’s emphasis on greater assessment of learners in schools. It sought to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through research, monitoring and evaluation, planning and assessment. The aim of the fifth programme, Social Responsibility, was to make schools the centre of community life by improving learning capacity through the National School Nutrition Programme; and reducing health barriers to learning by rolling out health screening.

The Department emphasised the funding of the education sector equitable share. The key aspect in the Division of Revenue Bill for education was the funding of the Basic Education sector in provincial education departments. At this stage, provincial education departments received a total of R128.3 billion, R138.9 billion and R145.6 billion over the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework cycle, excluding conditional grants. These allocations represented on average 49% of total provincial budgets. Compensation of employees remained the biggest portion of the budgets of the provincial education departments at an average of 79.9% over the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework period. The Department held the important responsibility for four conditional grants over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period - the National School Nutrition Programme, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Life Skills, the Technical Schools Recapitalisation, and the Dinaledi Schools conditional grant. The 2010-2011 grant framework for the National Schools Nutrition Programme had as its strategic goal to enhance learning capacity and to improve access to education. The framework for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Life Skills 2010 grant had as its strategic goal to provide access to an appropriate and effective integrated system of prevention, care and support for learners, educators and support staff infected and affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The purpose of the Technical Schools Recapitalisation 2010-2011 Grant was to improve conditions in technical schools, modernise them to meet the teaching requirements of learners in the technical and vocational fields, and increase the number of suitably qualified and technically skilled graduates from these schools. Such schools were not many in number, which was why the budget was small. According to the grant framework for Technical Schools Recapitalisation, the provincial departments of education were required to draft business plans and submit them to the Department for evaluation and approval. The Department and the project steering committee would manage and monitor the project on a regular basis. The monitoring and evaluation of the grant would be undertaken in compliance with the relevant policy provisions such as the Division of Revenue Act, Public Finance Management Act and the National Education Policy Act, as amended.

Members asked about national and provincial priorities, capitalisation, problems with school transport for children in rural areas, compensation for employees, Occupation Specific Dispensation, if the Department was ready to deliver results with substantially good outcomes, about monitoring outcomes by the Personal Salary System, about progress with the reintroduction of physical education in schools, and in-service training.  The Chairperson commented that South Africa spent much, but this was not reflected in outcomes. It was not possible to import electricians and plumbers, and other artisans that South Africa could itself produce. Children were still being taught under trees. The Department was confident that with its new structure it was in a better condition that in the past and was making progress. Educational change was not a short term matter. The Department agreed with Members’ views on the transport problems of rural children, especially when there were rivers and hills. The problem of providing schools in low density areas was a global problem. The Department would have to collaborate more closely with the Department of Transport. Education was highly intensive of labour, hence the proportion allocated for compensation. Persal enabled the Department to monitor trends. Verifiable data was of the utmost importance. Data for outcomes was linked to the credibility of data. The Department said that the Auditor-General was talking about auditing the credibility of outcomes. The Department had an agreement with the teachers’ unions on in-service training. Educators were expected to participate in such activities to the extent of 85 hours per annum.  The Department sought to ensure that the time was used productively.

The Department of Higher Education and Training had received functions from the Departments of Education and Labour such as adult education and training, vocational education and training, university education, and skills development. It was well understood that education and training was a major priority. A huge amount of money had been allocated. The Department referred to the complexities thereof. The shifting of funds from the Department of Labour was carried out by the National Treasury. The Department might experience budget constraints from the 2010-2011 financial year onwards because of the limited additional funds allocated to it. The amount given to the Department in the budget speech was about R32 billion. This appeared to be a vast amount but this largely consisted of monies received by the Department and then immediately disbursed. The Department had a careful process of internal bidding. It was responsible for one Schedule 4 conditional grant with effect from 1 April 2010, namely the grant for the further education and training colleges sector. The purpose of the grant was to ensure the successful transfer of the further education and training colleges function to the Department and was a general conditional allocation to provinces.

 

The move of colleges from a provincial to a national responsibility was very important. There was clear evidence that the resources that had been available at provincial level had been eroded over time because of diversion from colleges to schools. It was necessary to ringfence college funds. Grant management and monitoring would be performed as part of the normal baseline allocation of the Department. The allocations for the grant made provision for the improvement of conditions of service for the lecturers employed by College Councils. The payment of the grant would be in two instalments (April and September). As the grant contained improvements to the conditions of service of college employees, an adjustment to budgets across provinces might be required once the programme costs were aligned with the pending labour agreement. The Department encouraged collaboration between Sector Education and Training Authorities and colleges should collaborate - ‘together the ideas just flow’. Further education and training colleges had undergone huge changes but the Department was determined to strengthen them as an essential part of the national system.

Members asked about the Department’s apparently large budget of R32 billion, to which the Department responded that after disbursements it was effectively less than a billion. It would have to be cautious to the extent of considering using information and communications technology to make presentations to Parliamentary Committees via video conferencing, rather than sending a full delegation of officials. Members also asked about the Department’s
evidence-based model, the risk of a shortfall, teacher training colleges, increasing the throughput of students, research on the subsidising of the global economy when it absorbed South Africa’s students and financial aid for students. An African National Congress Member said that the conditional grants for the further education and training colleges were clearly based on the historically recorded figures but did not seem to have been improved. The Department responded that it was aware that many young people were not engaged in training for employment, or in work or education. There was approximately double the number of people in the universities as in the further education and training colleges. This constituted a skills mismatch. The framing architecture was led by the Higher Education for South Africa council which would meet again on 30 March 2010. The Department emphasised that people needed seamless access to learning opportunities after they had left school and throughout their adult lives. The modern economy was global and mobility of skills was inevitable. It was debatable whether student financial aid should be spread thinly, or sufficiently given to those who received it. One knew that a family income of R200 000 was not sufficient to support a child in university education, yet a family income of R120 000 per annum was the highest allowable for a child to qualify for student financial aid.

The Financial and Fiscal Commission said that it was important to establish a baseline for the further education and training colleges. The National Treasury reported that it and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had agreed on how to resolve their differences and there was no need to change the Bill. Other matters would be handled in the conditional grant.

Meeting report

Ms R Mashigo (ANC), as Acting Chairperson until the arrival of the Chairperson shortly afterwards, opened the meeting by reminding Members of the importance of education as a millennium development goal, and trusting that the presentations would reflect the needs of the people and the aim of a better life for all.

Department of Basic Education presentation
Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Acting Director-General, Department of Basic Education (DoBE), said that the DoBE still shared personnel with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET), and with the Department of Education (DoE) which still existed. He said that there was an overlap between the two presentations as regards their first part which detailed the split of personnel and budget. He explained the current transitional situation in which the three Departments coexisted under one budget for the duration of the present financial year, 2009-2010. Among the implications was the sharing of the Chief Financial Officer.

The presentation covered the salient points of the restructuring of the Department and the distribution of the budget, the funding of the education sector equitable share, and Basic Education conditional grants.

The Department of Basic Education was established through the split of the Department of Education because of the Government’s restructuring process during 2009. The DoBE had received functions from the Department of Education. These functions included Adult Basic Literacy and Numeracy through the Kha Ri Gude campaign, and school education. The aim of the split was to enable the Government to give more focus to the priority areas of school education and higher education and integrated training. The budget for the DoBE consisted of funds based on the split of the Department of Education. The splitting of funds had been carried out according to an agreed framework in line with the allocation of functions as well as the distribution of the staff complement. Each Department was obliged by law to maintain a certain capacity to deal with various functions, in particular financial and supply chain management aspects. The DoBE might experience budget constraints from the 2010-2011 financial year onwards since no additional funds had been allocated for its establishment.

The budget had been split according to a framework agreed between the three Directors-General. Compensation of employees had been distributed according to agreed ratios for each directorate. Earmarked funds had been allocated according to function. Commitments such as audit fees, rental machines, computer services, bank charges, and other items, had been determined for both the DoBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training and allocated to the respective directorates.

Funds for operational costs and projects had been dealt with as follows: MTEF amounts for all components had been split in agreed ratios between the two Departments; operational costs of directorates or components had been allocated according to specific requirements. An available balance was reserved for projects.

The aim of the DoBE was to develop, maintain and support a South African school education system for the 21st century.
           
Programmes in the 2010 ENE were Administration (R252.8 million); Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring (R1 354.3 million); Teacher and Education Human Resources Development and Management (R513.7 million); Planning, Quality Assessment and Monitoring and Evaluation (R148.7 million); and Social Responsibility (R3 896.7 million).

As was the case with all governmental departments, Basic Education’s first programme was Administration. This comprised the overall management and administration of the Department, the offices of the Minister, the Deputy Minister, management, corporate services, national and provincial coordination and administration as well as office accommodation.

The second programme, Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, was a key programme for the fundamental function of Basic Education. It comprised the development of the curriculum and assessment policies for basic education and monitoring their implementation; the National Curriculum Institute; curriculum and quality enhancement programmes; and the Kha Ri Gude Literacy Project. Key objectives and measures included reducing the number of illiterate adults in South Africa by 1.5 million by 2011 through the Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign; improve the quality of mathematics, science and technology education by providing support to and monitoring the performance and participation of 500 Dinaledi schools in those subjects in 2010/11 to increase the pass rates; and increasing the number of 5-year-old learners enrolled in Grade R to 900 000 learners by January 2011.

The third programme, Teachers and Education Human Resources Development and Management, was highly important since the salaries of teachers consumed 80% of the Department of Basic Education’s budget, a percentage that could not be realistically much reduced, though the Department did not wish to exceed it, as had been the case in the past when it had reached 90%. If it exceeded 85%, ‘then red lights [would] come on’. This programme promoted quality teaching and institutional performance through effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. It comprised education human resources management, institutional development, and teacher education. Key objectives and measures included improving the quality of teaching, teacher education, the teacher provisioning model, and school management.

The fourth programme, Planning, Quality Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation, reflected the State of the Nation Address’s emphasis on greater assessment of learners in schools. It sought to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through research, monitoring and evaluation, planning and assessment by way of information monitoring and evaluation, financial and physical planning and analysis, and educational measurements, assessment and public examination. Key objectives and measures included improving infrastructure planning and monitoring; reducing the number of underperforming schools by 10% in all provinces in 2010-2011; improving the management of learner information through the implementation of the Learner Unit Record Tracking and Information System (LURITS) in schools, and improve literacy and numeracy through tests in Grade 3, 6 and 9.

The aim of the fifth programme, Social Responsibility, was to make schools the centre of community life and reflect the role of the school in promoting child nutrition, reducing teenage pregnancy, and the partnership of education and health services. The programme sought to develop policies and programmes to increase the participation of learners in schools and improve the quality of learning in schools by way of social inclusion in education, equity in education, and health in education. Key objectives and measures included improving gender equity in schools; improving the quality of education and promoting access in 450 farm and rural schools; contributing to the reduction of teenage pregnancies; improving learning capacity through the National School Nutrition Programme; and reducing health barriers to learning by rolling out health screening.

Mr Soobrayan emphasised the funding of the education sector equitable share. The key aspect in the Division of Revenue Bill for education was the funding of the Basic Education sector in provincial education departments. At this stage, provincial education departments received a total of R128.3 billion, R138.9 billion and R145.6 billion over the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) cycle (excluding conditional grants). These allocations represented on average 49% of total provincial budgets. Compensation of employees remained the biggest portion of the budgets of the provincial education departments at an average of 79.9% over the 2010 MTEF period. Details of the allocations per province were reflected in the preliminary budgets of provincial education departments for the 2010 MTEF, preliminary 2010 MTEF provincial education departments’ budgets per economic classification, and percentage of preliminary provincial education departments’ budgets against overall provincial budgets. (Slides 11-14). Average percentage allocation to provincial education departments against provincial budgets remained constant at 49% over 2010 MTEF. The normal education share was 51%, therefore the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga enjoyed a favourable percentage allocation, but there were concerns about Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, and Western Cape. (Slide 14).

Mr Soobrayan said that provincial budgets were not part of the Department’s vote. However, it was important to mention it, since the Department was concerned with conditional grants to the provinces for education. The biggest proportion of spending went to provinces. This was a problem that the Department addressed every year. 

The DoBE held the important responsibility for four conditional grants over the MTEF period. The first was the National School Nutrition Programme which was very important. It was allocated R3 663.326 million for 2010-2011, R4 578.752 million for 2011-2012, and R4 928.090 million for 2012-2013. In addition, provision was made for national coordination, monitoring and strategic leadership. R13.399 million was allocated for 2010-2011, R8.234 million for 2011-2012, and R9.098 million for 2012-2013.

The HIV/AIDS Life Skills conditional grant provision was as follows: R188.045 million for 2010-2011, R199.328 million for 2011-2012, and R209.294 million for 2012-2013. There was no provision in the grant for national coordination, monitoring and strategic leadership of the programme – this would need to be funded from the DoBE’s baseline allocation.

The Technical Schools Recapitalisation conditional grant provision was as follows: R80 million for 2010-2011, R200 million for 2011-2012, and R210 million or 2012-2013. In addition, provision was made for national coordination, monitoring and strategic leadership as follows:  R1 million for 2010-2011, R2.5 million for 2011-2012, and R2.625 million for 2012-2013. 

The Dinaledi Schools conditional grant allocated R70 million for 2011-2012, and R100 million for 2012-2013.This grant would be effective only from the 2011-2012 financial year and details around the        framework and activities would be finalised during the 2010-2011 financial year. (Slides 15-16).

The 2010-2011 grant framework for the National School Nutrition Programme had as its strategic goal to enhance learning capacity and to improve access to education. The purpose of the grant was to provide nutritious meals to targeted learners. The outcome statements were enhanced learning capacity and improved access to education. The outputs were nutritious meals served to learners. The Department monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the priority of allocating money to educational and strategic goals. (Slide 17).

The National School Nutrition Programme 2010 MTEF allocation per province was indicated. (Slide 18).

The conditions of the 2010-2011 grant framework for the National School Nutrition Programme included the development of business plans, and the distribution of the budget allocation in terms of the following weightings: school feeding - minimum of 95 per cent, administration and other activities - maximum of 5 per cent. Minimum feeding requirements were to provide meals to all Q1-3 primary and Q1-2 secondary school learners on all school days. The cost per meal per learner in primary schools was set at R2.30 and in secondary schools at R3.25. There was an honorarium at R600 per month in line with a food handler to learner ratio of 1:200. There was to be in compliance with recommended menus: fresh fruit or vegetables were to be served daily and varied per week; a variety of protein food should be served per week. Tinned fish, preferably processed with bones, should be served at least once a week. Soya should not be served more than twice a week. (Slide 19)

The framework for the HIV/AIDS Life Skills 2010 grant had as its strategic goal to provide access to an appropriate and effective integrated system of prevention, care and support for learners, educators and support staff infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. The purpose of the grant was to develop, implement and manage life skills education in line with the HIV/AIDS and STIs National Strategic Plan 2007-2011 (new).
Outcome statements included life skills integration in the school curriculum at primary and secondary schools; care and support provision to learners, educators and support staff infected and affected with HIV and AIDS; reduction in risky behaviour among the school-going youth; reduction in teenage pregnancy as well as drug and substance use (new); and implementation in schools of learner retention programmes (new). (Slide 20). Outputs included 1 500 master trainers trained in the integration of life skills and HIV and AIDS programmes; 30 000 educators trained to integrate the life skills programme in line with departmental policies; educators trained in expressive art therapy; SMTs trained on integrated planning and management of school implementation plans; peer education, care and support programmes for learners, educators and other school support staff implemented in additional 5 000 schools; and age-appropriate National Curriculum Statement compliant learning and teaching support material for grades R-7 adapted for the deaf and blind and distributed to special schools. (Slides 20-21)

Key outcome indicators for the HIV and AIDS Life Skills grant included quality curricular prevention and school-based life skills (peer education) programme provided in primary and secondary schools; quality sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention programmes implemented in primary and secondary schools; a reduction in risky behaviour; reduction in the teenage pregnancy rate; reduction in drug and substance abuse; and the use of school implementation plans to manage risky behaviour in schools. (Slide 22).

The conditions of the framework for the HIV and AIDS Life Skills 2010-2011 grant required the development of business plans. Also required was the distribution of the budget allocation in terms of the following weightings: advocacy and communication - 3 per cent, training and development - 35 per cent, peer education - 20 percent, care and support (not EAP or clinical) - 25 percent, learning and teaching support material -10 per cent, and management, support, monitoring and evaluation - 7 percent. It was to be noted that provinces might adapt according to local conditions. (Slide 23).

The purpose of the Technical Schools Recapitalisation 2010-2011 Grant was to improve conditions in technical schools, modernise them to meet the teaching requirements of learners in the technical and vocational fields, and increase the number of suitably qualified and technically skilled graduates from these schools. These schools were not many in number, which was why the budget was small. They were not to be confused with the Further Education and Training (FET) colleges which were the responsibility of the DoHET. Provinces would utilise the funds for the following activities: building or re-designing workshops at technical schools to support the technical subject offerings; refurbishing workshops in technical schools to comply with safety laws and to meet minimum industry standards; buying and installing new machinery and equipment consistent with the technical subjects that were offered in technical schools; and training and increasing the skills of teachers at technical schools to follow new trends, acquire practical skills, and follow developments in technical subjects.(Slide 24)

In accordance with the principles of the Technical Schools Recapitalisation 2010-2011 grant allocation
the funds had been allocated to each province, according to the results of the audit, which reported on the conditions of schools to be recapitalised. The Department had determined the baseline values associated with each need, in accordance with the purpose of the project. Baseline values had been identified in the following expenditure items: acquisition of land and buildings (R500 000) per new workshop; equipment and machinery (R2, 6 million) maximum allocation per school; renovations to property (R250 000) per technical subject or workshop; and training of teachers (R10 500) per teacher. (Slide 25).

Proposed Allocations for 2010-2011 – 2012-2013 were analysed by province (audit results only). (Slide 26)
Consolidated Allocations for 2010-2011 – 2012-2013 were analysed by province (equitable share). (Slide 27).

According to the grant framework for Technical Schools Recapitalisation, the provincial departments of education were required to draft business plans and submit them to the Department for evaluation and approval. The Department and the project steering committee will manage and monitor the project on a regular basis. Provincial departments of education were required to monitor the implementation process against the operational and business plans. The monitoring and evaluation of the grant would be undertaken in compliance with the relevant policy provisions such as the Division of Revenue Act, Public Finance Management Act and the National Education Policy Act, as amended. (Slide 28)

Discussion
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) asked that national priorities be linked with provincial priorities. He also asked about performance management, and capitalisation of technical schools.

Mr Soobrayan acknowledged that the provinces were a challenge. The Department was now structured with a view to enabling it to focus strongly on supporting the provinces and improving infrastructure.

Mr Soobrayan said that the performance management system was new. The Department’s focus on measurable outcomes was important. He thought that the Department had significantly better conditions than in the past. He was confident that the Department was going to make progress. He believed that education was not a short term thing. Problems in education could not be solved in grade 12; it was necessary to begin with grade R.

Mr Soobrayan said that the Department had also schools with a vocational slant. These were the technical schools. These must be distinguished from the FET colleges. There were not many of them, so the budget was small, but the Department considered them important.

Ms Mashigo asked if the Department knew that there was a problem with school transport. There were disadvantages if transport was provided by another department since it was vital that children arrived at school. She asked if the problem had been resolved with the Department of Transport.

Mr Gelderblom said that children had to live 5 kilometres or more away from their school to qualify for transport. In his constituency it was difficult for small children who lived nearer to walk to school on account of the rural terrain with hills and valleys.

Mr Soobrayan explained the Department’s position but expressed his agreement with Members’ views on the transport problems of rural children, especially when there were rivers and hills. Small schools created problems of multi-grade teaching, while providing schools in areas of low population density was a major problem. The Department had tried to reduce the number of rural schools, but he acknowledged that fewer schools situated further apart aggravated the problems of children who had to walk long distances. In some cases multi-grade teaching done properly was a better solution. Also, boarding facilities were possible, but expensive. The problem of providing schools in low density areas was a global problem. He acknowledged that the Department would have to collaborate more closely with the Department of Transport.

Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) asked about compensation for employees.

Mr Soobrayan replied that education was highly intensive of labour, hence the proportion allocated for compensation. The Department aimed to keep the proportion at 80% or below. It must not exceed 85%. Otherwise there would not be enough money for text books. In the past, the proportion had been 90%,

Ms Ngcobo asked if compensation included Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). She asked the Department to examine the quintile problem of school nutrition.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) asked if the Department was ready to deliver results with substantially good outputs. He asked if the Department was ready to deliver and implement so that the output at the end of the year was different from that seen before. He asked if the Department was ready to deliver on outcomes. His was a general question.

Mr G Snell (ANC) said that the National Treasury had assured the Committee the previous week that departments would be allowed to monitor those outcomes by the Personal Salary System (Persal). He asked if the Department could confirm if that was correct. 

Mr Soobrayan acknowledged that Persal enabled the Department to monitor trends. Verifiable data was of utmost importance. Data for outcome was linked to the credibility of data. He noted that the Auditor-General was talking about auditing the credibility of outcomes. Mr Soobrayan did not want to go into detail, but he acknowledged that it was an important area in terms of accountability and oversight. There was a need for corroboration to ensure that textbooks were physically present in the schools. 

The Chairperson asked about the in-service training of teachers. They must not be trained after hours in Gauteng without receiving overtime pay. He asked how the Department would deal with this without interfering with classes or examinations.

Mr Soobrayan responded that educators were expected to participate in such activities to the extent of 85 hours per annum. The Department sought to ensure that the time was used productively.

The Chairperson commented that perhaps the Committee had asked the Department to summarise excessively. He asked if the Department was fully ready for the testing of children. South Africa spent much, but this was not reflected in outcomes. It was not possible to import electricians and plumbers, artisans that South Africa could produce for itself. Former President Thabo Mbeki had said that no child should have to study under a tree. However, five years later, there were still children receiving their lessons under trees. Infrastructure remained a big problem.

Mr M Swart (DA) asked about progress with the reintroduction of physical education in schools.

Mr Soobrayan replied that the Department took the reintroduction of physical education seriously.

Ms Wendy Fanoe, National Treasury, commented on concurrent functions and the political forms such as the budget council. Discussion was needed later on the FET colleges.

Ms Lydia Ntenga, Programme Manager, Financial and Fiscal Commission, commented that a large proportion of the Department’s budget was expended on personnel. She asked about the impact on services. The FFC was reviewing the renewal of the conditional grants.

The Chairperson said that he would not allow the Department to respond to Ms Ntenga, since she was merely referring to FFC proposals. He asked the Department to respond in writing to the various issues raised by Members. The Department had the Committee’s support.  It was important to define outcomes carefully. They had to be measurable, and one could not expect an outcome to follow funding immediately. The Committee did not know how the Department determined the categorisation of quintiles. This could not be the responsibility of the Department alone. It had implications for the distribution of resources. Parliament’s view was that the Department was responsible for education and part of the Department’s educational responsibility was ensuring that children were brought to school to be taught. If small children were expected to walk five kilometres, one had to ask if adults could be expected to walk so far. The Committee was to finalise its report on the Bill on Tuesday, 02 March 2010.

Department of Higher Education and Training presentation
Professor Mary Metcalfe, Director-General, Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET), said that there would be issues of content that she would deal with as necessary to assist Members understand the implications for the division of revenue. The presentation would cover the restructuring of education and distribution of the budget, followed by conditional grants.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET) was established through the split of the Department of Education on account of the Government’s restructuring process during 2009. The DoHET had received functions from the Departments of Education and Labour. These functions had included adult education and training, vocational education and training, university education, and skills development.

It was well understood that education and training was a major priority. A huge amount of money had been allocated. Mr Soobrayan had covered part of this aspect. Professor Metcalfe would refer to the complexities thereof.

Professor Metcalfe revisited the challenges of establishing the baseline for the new Department, and the importance of establishing corporate functions. There were some baselines which came from the Department of Labour in particular - adult education and training, excluding adult literacy. The budget for DoHET consisted of funds based on the split of the Department of Education as well as the transfer of functions from the Department of Labour. The splitting of funds from the Department of Education was according to an agreed framework in line with the allocation of functions as well as the distribution of the staff complement. The shifting of funds from the Department of Labour was carried out by the National Treasury based on the functions allocated to the Department. The DoHET might experience budget constraints from the 2010-2011 financial year onwards because of the limited additional funds allocated for the establishment of the DoHET. (Slides 1-4)

The budget was distributed according to an agreed framework. Compensation of employees was distributed according to an agreed ratio for each directorate. Earmarked funds were allocated based on functional responsibility. Commitments such as audit fees, rental machines, computer services, bank charges, and other items, were determined for both Departments and allocated to the respective directorates. Funds for operational costs and projects were dealt with thus. MTEF amounts for all components were split in an agreed ratio. Operational costs of directorates or components were allocated according to specific requirements. An available balance was reserved for projects. (Slide 5).

The DoHET’s aim was to develop and support a quality higher education and vocational education sector, and promote access to higher and vocational education and skills development training opportunities.
The amount given to the DoHET in the budget speech was about R32 billion. This appeared to be a vast amount, and the Department was very happy with this but hastened to assure the Committee that this amount largely consisted of monies received by the Department and then immediately disbursed. The Department had a careful process of internal bidding.

The DoHET was responsible for one Schedule 4 conditional grant with effect from 1 April 2010, namely the grant for the further education and training (FET) colleges sector. Although this was a new grant to be managed by the Department, historical figures in the 2010 ENE had been adjusted to reflect the past allocations to this sector as previously funded through the provincial equitable formula. The purpose of the grant was to ensure the successful transfer of the further education and training colleges function to the DoHET and was a general conditional allocation to provinces. The funding of the grant over the 2010 MTEF was R3 772.661 million for 2010-2011, R3 971.989 million for 2011-2012, R4 169.088 million for 2012-2013. (Slide 8).
The move of colleges from a provincial to a national responsibility was very important. There was clear evidence that the resources that had been available at provincial level had been eroded over time because of diversion from colleges to schools. It was necessary to ringfence college funds. Members might wish to refer to the Bill, page 37, which gave a sense of the reallocation. Page 114 gave the grant framework. It was a tumultuous time for employees of colleges who would henceforth be paid by the College Councils. 

Grant management and monitoring would be performed as part of the normal baseline allocation of the DoHET. The allocations for the grant made provision for the improvement of conditions of service for the lecturers employed by College Councils. The following outputs were expected from the grant: enrolment of a minimum of NC (V) programmes as set out in college enrolment target planning; enrolments in Report 191 Programmes in line with the Report 191 Phase Out Policy; an expansion of information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning towards connectivity norms; a continuation of the implementation of  MIS systems for the delivery of transversal MIS services; implementation of the Funding Norms for FET Colleges; and refurbishment, maintenance and repairs of infrastructure and equipment to support the delivery of approved programmes. (Slide 9)

The conditions of the grant were as follows: provincial education departments were to maintain the value of the current funding and resource requirements of FET Colleges, as well as the growth projections thereof;
on receipt of a transfer for a college, the provincial department of education was to transfer the funds to the relevant college within 14 days of receipt thereof; the date of transfer to a college was to be confirmed with the DoHET within two days thereof; and the provincial implementation protocol was to be signed between provincial education department accounting officers and the accounting officer of the DoHET. (Slide 10)

To ensure the success of the grant, the DoHET would: provide a framework for the development of college operational plans and strategic plans; monitor  the grant according to approved college operational plans; consolidate and submit quarterly reports to the National Treasury; monitor the utilisation of the grant against the set outcomes and to take appropriate action if cases of non-compliance were discovered; calculate the programme based funding per college based on the funding norms for FET Colleges each year and recommend the transfer of this to the relevant FET college; establish provincial level institutional support to FET colleges; and evaluate the performance of the conditional grant and submit the required evaluation report. (Slide 11)

Provincial education departments would be responsible for supporting the process of concluding the required provincial implementation protocol with the DoHET; ensuring that provincial officials who were currently supporting FET College functions continued such support; and transferring grant allocations to colleges within 14 days of receipt of transfer of funds, and confirming transfer with the DoHET within two days.

The payment of the grant would be in two instalments (April and September). As the grant contained improvements to the conditions of service of college employees, an adjustment to budgets across provinces might be required once the programme costs were aligned with the pending labour agreement. (Slide 12).

Professor Metcalfe was keen that Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and colleges should collaborate – ‘together the ideas just flow’. FET colleges had undergone huge changes but the Department was determined to strengthen them as an essential part of the national system.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that he had met constituents who lacked the money for experiential training. He admitted an overlap between the concerns of the Committee and the relevant portfolio committees because of Members’ constituency work. He asked about the Department’s budget.

Mr Ramatlakane asked if the Department was heading for a shortfall.

Professor Metcalfe gave further details and explained that, of the Department’s R32 billion, more than R30 billion was subject to immediate disbursement ‘via the post-box’. After compensating employees, the Department was actually left with a modest amount, and it had to be very careful to operate within its means.

Professor Metcalfe suggested the use of information and communications technology to give presentations to Parliamentary committees in part remotely, with only the director-general and a colleague present, rather than sending a full delegation of senior officials.

Mr Ramatlakane asked about the Department’s evidence-based model.

Professor Metcalfe said that it was assumed that the President had based his State of the Nation observations on a rigorous analysis of the skills crisis. It was known that participation rates were low, and many young people were not engaged in training for employment. About 40% were not in any form of education, training or work. The number of students in universities was approximately double the number in FET colleges, which represented a great skills mismatch. The framing architecture was set by the Higher Education South Africa council, which would next meet on 30 March 2010. Adult education must address both the needs of youth and adults.

Ms Ngcobo asked about teacher training colleges, and if the Department’s budget would be sufficient to enable them to be reopened. She asked how expedient the National Treasury would be with the grants.

Mr Snell asked about increasing the throughput of students going forward. The conditional grants for the FET colleges were clearly based on the figures recorded historically but did not seem to be much improved.

Professor Metcalfe responded that Mr Snell's question was a very important one. It was important to increase the availability of money for the conditional grant for FET colleges. She was hopeful that there could be synergy with the skills framework.

Mr Snell asked for research on the subsidising of the global economy when it absorbed South Africa’s students. This was important if one considered that a large amount of money expended.

Professor Metcalfe responded that there was mobility of skills in the modern world and this was inevitable.

Ms Mashigo asked about the accessibility of national financial aid for students, and how young people qualified.

Professor Metcalfe responded that, in terms of policy, financial aid was given to the poorest students. 17% altogether received it. It was debatable whether enough financial aid should be given to a few or whether the available funds should be spread more widely but more thinly. A student from a family with a household income of R120 000 per annum could qualify for financial aid, but it was known that a family with a household income of R200 000 per annum could not afford to send a child to university. The definition of poverty needed to be revised.

Professor Metcalfe added that she was excited that the Department was collaborating with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. It also made sense to locate nursing colleges in the Department of Health. With regard to the infrastructure grants there was now focus on medicine and engineering.

Ms Fanoe thanked the Committee for the opportunity to attend the week’s discussions. A conditional grant must meet its objectives. It could be reviewed if conditions were not met. It was not just the Department’s decision. 

Ms Ntenga said that it was important to establish a baseline for the FET colleges.

The Chairperson asked Ms Fanoe about COGTA and National Treasury’s differences.

Ms Fanoe reported that the National Treasury and COGTA had agreed on how to resolve their differences and there was no need to amend the Bill. Other matters would be handled in the conditional grant.

The Chairperson thanked Members and delegates.

The meeting was adjourned.



Share this page: