Department of Higher Education and Training, and Department of Basic Education: Strategic Plans and Budgets 2010-2015

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

19 April 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Higher Education and Training briefed the Select Committee on its strategic plan and the Medium Term Economic Framework budget. The complex nature of the split of the former Department of Education into two new departments raised many questions. Of particular concern to the Committee were issues such as transfer of functions to the new departments, the limited funding, monitoring and evaluation, inequalities in terms of support and services, poor results, the entire area of skills development, the Further Education and Training (FET) sector, as well as the young people. The presentation addressed many of these concerns adequately whilst it was still too early to receive definitive answers on others. The presentation made special mention of the training of artisans and the conditional grant to FET colleges. Lastly, it also went to great lengths to explain the way the budget was constructed.

In the second presentation the Department of Basic Education briefed the Select Committee on its strategic plan and budget. The Committee was also keen to better understand how the split affected the work of the Department of Basic Education. Of particular concern were issues such as where certain functions would reside, Early Childhood Development, capacity of districts and provinces, training of teachers, infrastructure provision and maintenance, inequality and poverty, rural schools, uniformity across provinces, provision of textbooks and availability of funds to address the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for teachers. This presentation managed to shed some light on the concerns but stressed that development of many matters would be needed before final clarity was obtained. During the presentation special emphasis was placed on the Department’s Schooling 2025 plan, which was a turnaround strategy. The presentation presented on many innovative initiatives. Special focus was also given to reporting and monitoring but also on providing support to under capacitated and underperforming institutions.

Meeting report

Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Strategic Plan and Budget 2010-2105 briefing
Ms Mary Metcalfe, Director General, Department of Higher Education and Training, indicated that the following day’s Budget Speech by the Minister, as well as this presentation, would give a sense of the entire work of the DHET. She noted that it was particularly important to present to this Committee because of the critical relationship and the concurrence of responsibilities the DHET would have with the provinces. The Minister had also convened a council of Education Ministers for Higher Education and Training.

Ms Metcalfe referred members to pages 36-37 of the Strategic Plan where the legislated mandate was explained and covered the responsibilities of the Minister and the provinces. This legislation previously resided in the former Department of Education (DoE) and the Department of Labour (DoL). Two Acts were of particular importance to this Committee. The Adult Basic and Education and Training (ABET) Act provided for the establishment and governance of public and private ABET centres. The entire Act had been allocated to the Minister of HET, with some responsibilities given to national and some to provincial government. The Further Education and Training (FET) Act provided for governance and funding of FET colleges. Currently this Act was administered mainly by provincial ministers. It was key that Members should know about the concurrence of responsibilities by provincial and national government. She indicated that most of the other pieces of legislation were national Acts, and it was important to understand how they fitted into the national picture.

Ms Metcalfe confirmed that the Annual Report for 2009/10 would still be presented by the former DoE, which had been running education, the budget and staff until 31 March 2010. DHET became operational from 01 April 2010.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, DHET, addressed the budget. He noted that splitting the former DoE into two departments meant a split of National Treasury allocations. The split was based on specific functions and a determination of which percentage of the function belonged to Higher Education (HE) and which to Basic Education (BE). Some functions remained intact and no split was necessary.

The baseline allocations were constructed because of the shift of functions and the ratio between HE and BE. Importantly, the amounts for FET Educators could only be finalised once agreement had been reached in the Collective Bargaining Chamber. Adjustments to the baseline allocations referred to the funds shifted by Treasury from DoL. Referring to slide 7, Mr Tredoux pointed out that the reduction of R8.4 billion represented the funds that South African Revenue Services (SARS) channelled to the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the National Skills Fund (NSF), via the DHET.

Ms Metcalfe continued to explain that the DHET was organised into five programmes, although these programmes might change considering the strategy to review the organisational structure, as set out on page 112 of the Strategic Plan.

She wished to briefly explain the Human Resource Development (HRD) aspect of programme 2. The history of HRD planning had a varied trajectory but had been given new impetus by the Deputy President when he established the HRD South African Council, which he also chaired. This council brought together key ministries and key stakeholders from business and labour, whilst the DHET fulfilled the role of secretariat.

If the allocations to universities, the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) were removed, Programme 3 was left with a balance of R20 million to cover salaries and operational expenditure.

Teacher Education was a new function explicitly handed to the DHET to ensure adequate supply of quality teachers for the Basic Education system. Further details would soon be finalised.

Ms Metcalfe felt she needed to explain the new Division of Revenue Act. It was important that the Minister of Finance clearly understood the emphatic intention of the President to have FET viewed as part of the HET system. This would require further legal work. The Council of Education Ministers were keen that this happen as soon as possible, because many felt completely consumed by the challenges from schools and would prefer that the national department take on full responsibility. The FET Act currently allocated responsibilities to the minister, the Director General, Members of Executive Councils and Heads of Department. The Division of Revenue Act needed further clarity on this point. She proceeded to state that the Minister of Finance stated in his Medium Term Budget that he would adjust the provincial equitable share to identify which money was allocated to which province for FET colleges. The entire amount would be taken out of the provincial budget and would be given to DHET as a conditional grant. DHET would then give it back to the provinces with conditions. This was important, as it would enable DHET to set conditions, which in turn would facilitate a much more streamlined national process. She referred Members to page 37 and 114 of the Division of Revenue Act.

Dr Beki Mahlobo, Acting Deputy Director General: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, DHET, explained that there was a great emphasis on improving the management of information systems across the Department in order to have data readily available. The DHET would consider measures to deal effectively with the “scourge” of private FET colleges, including eliminating the “fly-by-night” institutions. He stressed that programmes should respond to the nature of the needs. The new landscape would assist in that training and education were now with the same department, making it easier to integrate theory being taught by colleges and workplace training and learning. There was also a plan to re-conceptualise the notion of ABET, to cater both for adults who simply wished to learn to read and write, and adults who wished to do matric or learn a special skill in order to earn a living.

Ms Metcalfe was excited about skills development. Soon all stakeholders would be involved in deepening the reach and the quality of skills development for the employed and unemployed. She was looking forward to working with the Committee to take the work of SETAs forward.

She noted that the Minister had extended the scope of SETAs for another year. The DHET had tabled proposals to National Skills Authority (NSA) for a new SETA landscape.  SETAs’ functions had changed recently. They were primarily responsible for planning of skills development strategies, and historically managed quality assurance. In future, the latter function would shift to the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Within the DHET there would be a branch to look at monitoring and evaluation of SETAs.

The QCTO was working closely with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) whilst DHET was setting up the administrative infrastructure. At present the Acting Deputy Director General for Skills Development was also the Acting Deputy Director General for Quality Development and Promotion.

The DHET was also supporting the NSA, comprising the key constituencies of community, labour and business. The chair for the NSA had been appointed and an advertisement for an executive officer would soon be placed; in the meantime the Deputy Director General Mr Feroz Patel was acting in this post. A key function of the QCTO was the establishment of a National Artisan Moderating Body (NAMB) to provide leadership around trade testing, and to attend to the development of an artisan register.

The key function of the NSA was to promote the alignment of skills development and the need to grow the economy in line with the Industrial Policy, Rural Development Strategy and the Science and Technology Strategy.

Ms Metcalfe concluded that whilst her Department had severe financial constraints it remained optimistic, and would work closely with all stakeholders.

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) wanted to know what the DHET was planning around unemployed youth, and HIV/AIDS.

Ms Metcalfe stated that the DHET, together with Higher Education South Africa (HESA), the association of Vice-Chancellors of universities, had just done some excellent work with students, lecturers and workers at universities around HIV and Aids. Members could get copies of these reports. The key aim was not just to have another awareness programme but to build institutional capacity around the management and practices related to HIV/AIDS. Interestingly, the incidence rate of HIV and AIDS amongst students was lower than that for the general population, although much work was still needed.

Ms Rasmeni asked whether the Department was adequately encouraging Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Ms Metcalfe stated that the DHET was working closely with SAQA and the QCTO in revising the RPL system. The SAQA and SETA strategic plans (which she could forward if necessary) discussed RPL in depth.

Mr W Faber (ANC, Northern Cape) was adamant that some SETAs were corrupt, and pleaded for the Department to look at measures to regulate and monitor them.

Mr Faber expressed dismay that artisans coming from FET colleges were of lower quality than those training under the old system of apprenticeship. He felt that more on-the-job training was indispensable.

Ms Metcalfe recognised the issue of artisan training as a serious problem. She said that since the new innovative models of 1994, there had been a decline in the production of artisans, until a recent revival of interest. The Minister, as evidenced in the budget speech, was paying much attention to this. The transition from the old Manpower Act situation to the new Skills Development Act situation must be accelerated. Ms Metcalfe explained that the current legislation provided for four routes to become an artisan. Firstly, there was the traditional route of apprenticeship training, by “N” courses, together with on-the-job training. Secondly, there were National Certificate in Vocations (NCV) courses established three years ago at FET colleges. Thirdly, artisans could train through SETA learnerships. Fourthly, RPL provided another route. The quality of the artisan was really determined by the trade test. The artisan moderating body needed more testing stations, and it was possible that colleges could provide these stations.

Mr M De Villiers (ANC, Western Cape) wondered why the decision to split into two departments was taken so late. He was concerned that the 4% escalation was below the inflation rate.

Ms Metcalfe said the timelines were largely influenced by the timing of the elections, the new administration and the transfer of functions and budgets.

Mr Tredoux touched on the 4% budget escalation and explained that it represented a collective figure and that there were certain programmes with higher escalation percentages.

Mr de Villiers asked if there was a monitoring system for SETAs.

Mr S Plaatjie (COPE, North West) asked for more information on monitoring of SETAs.

Ms Metcalfe stated that some SETAs did excellent work although SETAs were never dealt with firmly enough, especially underperforming ones. Four SETAs were to be removed.

Mr Tredoux added that Programme 5 in the DHET dealt with monitoring all public entities, both from a financial and strategic stance. Financial monitoring would examine compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). There would be stricter monitoring of financial statements and quarterly reports on financial matters and performance would be required. Site visits would form part of the monitoring process.

Ms Metcalfe added that DHET was establishing new, as well as revising old monitoring and evaluation systems, to avoid doing work in silos. She said that although there were systems in place to monitor the SETAs, it was possible to improve them.

Mr de Villiers expressed concern about the staffing of the new departments and wanted to know how much progress had been made.

Ms Metcalfe assured him that the Department was making efforts to fill all the required posts. 

Mr S Plaatjie expressed concern that although ABET was prioritised, ABET practitioners were still not adequately skilled, nor paid in line with mainstream educators.

Ms Metcalfe replied that the ABET system had gone through much revision over the last few years including a White Paper. The employment conditions of practitioners remained a bone of contention

Mr Plaatjie said that poor students needed better support and asked what was being done.

Ms Metcalfe encouraged Members to look at the NSFAS Review Report, which was available on the website. Public comments were invited and public hearings would soon be convened by the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education. There was a definite link between the lack of financial support and the failure rate. Currently the funds were too thinly spread. There was too little for each student needing help.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) needed more details about the exact functions that were transferred from the DoL, and the timeframes for complete transfer. He also wanted to know how many institutions existed across the entire Education and Training spectrum.

Ms Metcalfe stated that Skills Development was a branch under DoL and the Skills Development Act outlines all the functions which now were transferred to the DHET. There were also other smaller functions that would be transferred.  DHET would still have to work closely with DoL, but the situation was complicated by the fact that DoL had regional offices, whilst DHET did not. Some components of DHET work would still be done through the DoL, and there were protocols and agreements in place to manage this.

Two provinces did not have a university and there were task teams in place investigating this. The planning for these new universities, the first post-apartheid universities, would be very thorough and they would provide opportunities fro innovation.

Ms P Ncube (ANC, Gauteng) asked about the position the South African Council for Educators (SACE) would occupy now, and whether it would be working with DHET or the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Ms Ncube sought more information on the conditional grant mentioned under programme 4 in the presentation. She expressed concern about the failure rate across the 12 grades and wondered where all the failures were. She also raised the problem that learners and lecturers were expected to build capacity via the internet and similar platforms. She also felt that too much focus was placed on lecturers having theory-based, academic qualifications whilst people from the industry were ignored.

Ms Metcalfe said the South African Council for Educators (SACE) Act was allocated to the DBE but SACE still governed educators in the FET band. SACE was a participant in the process of splitting the department into two.

Ms Metcalfe said that these questions could be grouped under themes. In regard to the process of establishment of new departments, she reminded Members about the complexities and financial challenges involved. The departments would be motivating their requests to National Treasury for funding to staff the critical posts. Transfer of functions, such as writing of outstanding reports, was extremely complex especially since the DoE had officially ceased to exist from 31 March 2010.

In regard to the national challenges with young people, Ms Metcalfe said that proper information systems were needed to track the trends. She quoted statistics from research by Drs Cloete and Shepherd from the Consortium for Higher Education and Training (CHET), which said that a study based on the Household Survey had shown that 2.4 million (46%) young people between 18 and 24 were not in education and training, or employed. DHET thought that it was vital to establish the pathways available to young people. The existing pathways did cater for many young people, who were indeed busy with some constructive and creative activities, and this would be amplified in the next day’s budget speech. About 40% of those sitting for the ABET matric exam were under 30 years old. Furthermore, the government had done much work in FET over the last few years to allow people to get matric in vocational studies. The President was determined to expand access to the FET colleges. DHET wanted to consolidate quality first, before expanding. There was a need to increase access. Other pathways available to young people, apart from colleges, was the SETA route and short courses. She suggested that it would be useful to brief the Committee in future on the National Skills Development Strategy III and how DHET prioritised young people.

She noted that a meeting of all stakeholders would soon be convened to discuss and analyse the teething problems and challenges. After a recent roundtable meeting of about one hundred and fifty key role players, a Steering Committee was formed and funding was secured, to learn from the model of the Teacher Education Summit, and to put in place a rigorous monitoring and evaluation programme for the whole sector. By August a clear picture of the new plan for FET colleges, as well as the way things were going to be done across the sector, would be finalised.

The Chairperson noted that shortage of time did not allow for further oral questions, although Members could submit further questions in writing.

Department of Basic Education (DBE) Strategic Plan and Budget briefing
Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, conveyed apologies for the absence of the Minister. There had been broad consultation on strategic priorities, and the nation was truly speaking with one voice on Early Childhood Development (ECD), literacy, teacher development and other matters. He said that Schooling 2025 was a comprehensive turnaround strategy for schooling in South Africa.

Because of the concurrence of responsibilities between provincial and national government, the Deputy Minister regarded the NCOP as an important player in monitoring performance and ensuring that provinces achieved their targets.

Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Acting Director General, Department of Basic Education, provided a high level overview of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) Strategic Plan for 2010-2013. He stressed that the Department would now work differently in order to give effect to the President’s call for “ a year of action”.

Mr Soobrayan emphasised that Schooling 2025 was not a sum of provincial plans but a sector plan. Its four key priorities included the improvement of Senior Certificate results, appropriate teacher development initiatives, improved literacy and numeracy at schools, and Early Childhood Development. He pointed out that the DBE was committed to working differently and outlined how this would happen.

A draft letter sent by the President to Ministers would form part of a delivery agreement with clear targets.  The Basic Education Delivery Forum, consisting mainly of the Council for Education Ministers, would report on performance in respect of the four key areas. The DBE would establish a delivery unit, not for monitoring and evaluation, but rather as a problem-solving team consisting of a small unit that could co-opt across provinces, even externally from the DBE. Mr Soobrayan acknowledges the constraints but was confident that he and his team would seek to manage those.

Ms Ncube expressed concern about the overspending in provinces and asked what needed to be done.

Mr Surty responded that the Department was providing support to provinces where overspending had happened. Through monitoring programmes, such instances were controlled and kept to a minimum.

Mr Soobrayan added that overspending was often a knock-on effect when starting with a deficit. It was also not always the fault of the departments or the provinces.

Ms Ncube raised the high learner pregnancy rate as a concern and wanted to know if there were programmes in place to tackle this.

Mr Surty wished to dispel the common belief that there was a link between the child support grant and teenage pregnancies. Reports actually showed a reduction of this trend. However, he acknowledged that it was still a problem and affected learning. The challenge was to build and empower educators and peers to deal with this matter more effectively.

Ms Ncube questioned the grant to technical schools, saying that some had become white elephants.

Mr Surty replied that, of the two hundred technical schools, there were some that either had outdated equipment or simply lacked the funding for the right equipment. This was problematic and the DBE was engaged in a recapitalisation programme in the funding allocation, so that the artisan programme could be advanced.

Mr S Plaatjie referred to a recent comment from the Minister that black education was in a crisis and wished to know what the immediate response would be to this crisis.

Mr Surty said that the reference to black education being in crisis was an accurate assessment because most black schools lacked many of the elements that made up a quality school. The legacy of the past was a reality, but also no excuse. The challenge of distributing resources equitably must be addressed. Mr Soobrayan added that the crisis was further being addressed through a multiple of interventions like funding, pedagogics, involving the community, addressing equipment, a responsive department, and other matters.

Mr Plaatjie asked if provinces were handing in quarterly reports as prescribed.

Mr Plaatjie asked if the IQMS was yielding the desired results.

Mr Soobrayan said that there was discussion on whether IQMS should be integrated with the NEEDU or whether it should be revamped and retained.

Mr De Villiers felt the training of teachers to be problematic and asked what the chances were of re-introducing the college training of teachers as he felt the quality of such teachers to be higher than university trained teachers.  He also questioned the decrease in the budget for teacher improvement and asked how this could help grow the quality when in fact more money was needed. He also felt that ECD should appear fist on the list of outputs as reflected on slide 5.

Mr Surty responded that, without wishing to comment on whether college or university-based teacher training was preferable, he wanted to outline the concept of mentoring and coaching for teachers. He did concede that some teachers qualified with a strong theoretical base yet were under-prepared for the new diverse populations of schools as well as the task of teaching. The reason why some colleges had closed was because of the poor quality of the teaching and learning. There was ongoing discussion around providing teacher training at FET colleges with sufficient support and mentoring. There was also an enormous amount of funding available for teacher bursaries.

The comment on the positioning of ECD on the list of outputs was fair but it did not make ECD less important than the programmes higher up on the list. In fact, its position was merely a technical matter. ECD was indeed a very important priority and the aim was to strive after national norms and standards. Already, every ECD learner in each of the eleven languages had received a resource pack.

Mr Soobrayan noted the pay difference of ECD practitioners in state schools as opposed to School Governing Body funded practitioners.

Mr Soobrayan pointed out to the member that the allocation for teacher improvement was in fact an increase, and that a decrease would be preceded by a minus sign (slide 27).

Mr Faber commented that quality of teachers was linked to their salaries, and enquired about performance based salaries for teachers.

Mr Soobrayan said that teachers with qualifications in scarce skills already received financial rewards. Teacher salaries were indeed performance and incentive-based. Compensation of teachers had greatly improved with the implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD).

Mr Surty added that starter teachers were now earning more than starter occupational therapists, who had studied for four year course as opposed to the three that teachers studied. This was directly in contradiction to the misperception that teachers were poorly paid.

Mr Faber could not understand why money should be spent on buildings, when that was a function of the Department of Public Works.

Mr Soobrayan explained that the new order dictated that the budget for maintenance would come from the departments, while the Department of Public Works (DPW) attended to the actual work.

Mr Surty added that the ideal scenario for building of schools would be to use Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) enquired about the schools to be targeted for no-fee status and those targeted for ICT investment over the medium term.

Mr Surty replied that already schools in quintile 1, 2 and 3 were no fee schools. Schools in quintile 4 and 5 were being reviewed. In future the focus would be on the population of the school, rather than the locality of the school, in determining allocations.

Mr Soobrayan added that the end result would be that there would be only two categories: “no fee” schools and “fee” schools.

Mr Soobrayan said that rural schools were receiving the focus for ICT investment. DBE was asking other departments and service providers not to run pilot projects but rather to service an entire district, in order to try to connect all schools rather than concentrating on odd ones here and there.

Mr Surty confirmed that a clear plan was in place for ICT rollout. More than 100 000 teachers had been trained in ICT in education. All teachers were entitled to a subsidised laptop which included pre-loaded software. Teachers were trained in using these laptops. In Gauteng more than 70% of schools had connectivity, whilst 80% of Western Cape schools were connected. Rollout to other provinces had often been stalled by circumstances outside of the DBE’s control.

The Chairperson referred to the state of buildings in the North West, and wanted to know who was responsible. The Chairperson complained that the Department was not caring for the hostel buildings.

Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) complained about a school in his area that could not afford interschool sport, where no one was available to work in the library, or to teach ICT. He also sought clarity on Slide 15 and wanted to know how the Department was going to deliver on those stated objectives.

The Deputy Minister responded that he would liaise with the Chairperson on the disrepair of the hostels in her constituency. Similarly he would liaise with Mr Gunda around the conditions mentioned by him. He noted that slide 15 had mentioned the need to build dignity amongst schools and teachers as well as attracting more teachers to rural areas.

The Chairperson enquired if there was a policy on learner transport.

The Chairperson noted that many learners were paying very high fees.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) also raised the issue of maintenance and was surprised to hear that the DBE now was announcing that the budget for maintenance was with that department. The DPW previously used the excuse that it could not move on any work because the budget was with the former DoE.

Mr Surty said that the delivery of buildings and maintenance was a function of the DPW, but this department could not cope on its own. There was a need for innovative thinking, such as the DBE approaching the Development Bank of Southern Africa for funding, then working with DPW to fast track the provision of infrastructural development. The DPW had a backlog of R140 billion in project delivery. The conditions in the Eastern Cape were particularly severe.

Ms Rantho noted that in the past, Learner Support Materials (LSM) were “dumped” by the former DoE, without any  follow up to check if materials were used correctly or even used at all. The money spent on LSM should be backed up by follow up work. The Grade R Learner Teachers in her area were battling to cope with the training because the training provider was not at their level.  

Mr Surty acknowledged that Eastern Cape had particular challenges, because of the rural nature of the province, and the poverty index. In regard to ECD training, he noted that the function still resided with the Department of Social Development, although he personally felt it should shift to the DBE. The registration of the qualification was done directly with SAQA, and DBE had no involvement there. There was no norm for the salary of practitioners. A uniform and minimum salary agreement was needed. The training had to be appropriate to the levels of the learners.

Mr Mashamaite shared the sentiments of Ms Rantho on fruitless and wasteful expenditure. He wanted to know if the department had an operational plan and if it was quarterly based. He further enquired how the DBE would monitor itself if it did not have an operational plan.

The Deputy Minister explained that the operational plan was part of the DBE Strategic Plan and the PFMA spelt out the requirements for reporting. It was also the Portfolio and Select Committees’ role to oversee the reporting from the various departments. He could confirm that the Ministry did receive monthly reports from the provinces on both financial and other matters.
Mr Mashamaite had experienced a degree of resistance to subject advisors from both educators and unions. He asked whether the DBE had a retention plan in place for teachers. He wanted to know whether the DBE was going to implement norms and standards for teachers and district support staff in the current financial year.

Mr Surty said that there was a direct link between results and the support from subject advisors. The problem was the lack of national norms and standards. In the Eastern Cape, for example, there was a greater learner population than the Western Cape, but less than a third of the number of advisers were based there. In Gauteng three times more funds were allocated to the district offices. There should be uniformity in norms and standards, and more link between allocation and needs to make the schools more successful.

He added that DBE was looking at making it more attractive for teachers to remain in rural areas by assisting them with accommodation closer to their schools.

Ms Ncube said that poor attendance at farm schools remained a problem.

Mr Soobrayan said that because of distances, multigrade teaching was inevitable, although not desirable, but that DBE needed to address the curriculum challenges. Many farm schools were too small. He said that there could be mergers of schools. Secondly, hostels could be provided centrally, and learners from more than one school could be accommodated there and then and be transported to their schools.

Ms Ncube wished to know if there would be sufficient funds to pay the OSD. She also mentioned that she had received a petition from an organisation of private schools, who asked that norms for funding of private schools be reviewed. She also gave examples of the difference in pay of a state employed ECD teacher versus a SGB employed one, and pleaded that the situation be normalised.

Mr Soobrayan stated that Treasury had put money in for OSD but he suspected that there would be some pressure on the allocation for OSD payments, especially at provincial level. The DBE would be monitoring the situation very closely.

He invited Ms Ncube to hand him the petition, but added that she should be aware that there were some “fly-by-nights” in the private schooling sector and the funding was based on performance. He did, however, agree that there was a need for provincial norms for funding.

Ms Ncube said that she was unhappy that money was handed over to public entities whilst no strategic plans were forthcoming.

Ms Ncube welcomed the work on ECD.

The Chairperson said that some schools did not receive the promised toolkit at the beginning of the year. 

Mr Soobrayan tendered apologies for this, and again stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation to happen consistently. The problem was largely caused by the eleven languages and the deadline was pushed back to March. It was important that schools were capacitated to use the support material and that follow ups were done to monitor implementation.

Mr De Villiers was worried about the handling of textbooks at schools. He noticed that some schools did not allow learners to take the books home. He did not think that the school environment was inviting enough and often was not learner-friendly, which was even more serious if learners already came from an unfriendly home environment. He wanted to know whether there were funds for the schools to attend to this aspect.

Mr Surty said that the budget allocates money for workbooks, which learners could take home, in order to complete tasks. All provinces had agreed to a national catalogue of textbooks. This would ensure that there were no discrepancies among provinces, as well as reduce the cost by about 50%. The goal was that every child must have a textbook to take home.

Mr Gunda noted that lack of sporting facilities would not ensure a rounded and quality education.

Mr Surty agreed that it was a problem and pointed out that it was largely a problem of funding. In terms of the new order the infrastructural function was with DBE, whilst the Department of Sports and Recreation was responsible for the organisation of sports and culture. The two departments were finalising a policy to manage this matter. There were moves to even build this priority into the curriculum, and he himself was leading the initiative.

The meeting was adjourned.


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