Public Hearings on the Appropriation Bill [B3-2010]: Human Sciences Research Council on the Creation of Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihoods, Education, and the Fight against Crime

Standing Committee on Appropriations

10 May 2010
Chairperson: Mr E. Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

In its public hearings on the Appropriation Bill, the Committee met the Human Sciences Research Council on the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education and the fight against crime. The Council said a commitment was needed to achieving world-class infrastructure, especially in energy, water, telecoms and commercial transport. As South Africa could not compete on cost alone, emphasis had to be placed on research and development, venture capital and market access arrangements. Challenges included the cyclical nature of sectors such as retail, security, cleaning and construction which provided the greater part of employment, and the limited ability of the market to expand in the context of the massive backlog of unemployed: - Government employment schemes were therefore essential. South Africa had also lost one million jobs in 2009/10 with the hardest being hit being youth under the age of 30 as well as those with schooling levels lower than matriculation. More serious attention to the challenges facing youth in accessing post-schooling opportunities was needed. This could be done through financial contributions to culture and recreation, commitment to enlarging further education and training colleges, the introduction of a youth transitional jobs scheme in the public sector, and continued commitment to the Expanded Public Works Programme II and the Community Works Programme. Available evidence pointed to high levels of food insecurity. Despite social grants having had a dramatic effect on in reducing severe hunger, under nourishment was still widespread with approximately 50% of households experiencing hunger and under-nutrition. In addition, rural households spent 9% - 15% more than urban ones for the same basic food basket. More attention needed to be paid to nutrition programmes. As 51% of all hungry households qualified for grants but did not receive them it was urgent that grants be more fully rolled out, especially to young people. Although there was a commitment to food fortification programmes, the compounds used were not appropriate. More attention should therefore be given to industrial incentives to encourage firms to fortify foods using the appropriate compounds as well as monitoring and evaluation. Urgent attention needed to be given to improving nutrition status and food security; food price levels and stability should be attended to; and budgets aimed at improving food security needed to be ring-fenced and monitored. In terms of rural development, only a small percentage of the rural population was economically active. The increase in spending on rural development was, although large, still not adequate.

Members asked the Council’s views on the regulation of food prices; why people in rural areas were not utilising more traditional means of technology in order to ensure food security;  how South Africa compared with other African countries in relation to under nourishment; if school curricula emphasised agriculture; why, in terms of the Expanded Public Works Programme II, spending had been so slow; and if the increased spend for rural development was really small when considering spending in the rest of the cluster.

The Council reported that since 2008 women’s dropping out of the workforce had increased by 44%. Urban spatial location played a role in this as for the poor the journey to work could limit their chances for economic participation. South Africa’s transport subsidies were directed to the working poor as opposed to the unemployed. Research had shown that urbanising women might not usually achieve economic participation. Poor women settling in cities concentrated in the urban backyards, subsidy housing and outer shacks. For those urban settlements, women’s per capita household income was similar to rural women’s households. There was therefore the suggested result that there was little advantage for women from urban migration. New policy approaches to urban transport services and subsidisation were needed to meet this spatial challenge.

Members asked whether the research was conducted in South Africa as the findings appeared to contradict the perception that the country had made significant strides in the empowerment of women; and whether these challenges were addressed in the budget and what cooperation there was between the relevant departments to address these challenges.

The Council also briefed Members on its findings on education - basic and higher. The challenges for education included access, equity, quality and efficiency. These challenges had led to unequal educational outcomes. Despite significant efforts over the past decade, the majority of the population was still not equipped with the capabilities promised by democracy and development. Though South Africa had put a lot of funds and resources into education, the output, when measured against this input, was minimal. As cognitive performance at an early age could predict later performance, especially in mathematics, it was important to intervene and invest in the early years (both in and out of school initiatives) if the predictable course of educational development of individuals was to be changed. Strong mother tongue literacy development was essential for literacy, academic language and numerical skills. Budgets needed to emphasize a few key areas: foundations for learning programmes, training of high quality teachers of African languages, and retaining young people in school and training institutions. The No-fee schools policy was a helpful intervention in the education development trap. Research had found that the Quintile system did not work efficiently. The Council’s recommendation in this regard would be reduce the amount of categories to three. The Council noted that learners did not read and write enough.

The Council was currently conducting a major audit of all 50 Further Education and Training colleges to ascertain their readiness for the new Act. The Council had found that, in terms of school and college transitions to the labour market, there was very low absorption of graduates. There was a low absorption of black African non-completers and graduates. In addition, learner aspirations were failing to translate into student enrolments. In terms of the budget, the combination of education and training into a single Ministry was positive for skills development. Further Education and Training colleges were important sites for intermediate skills development. The budget for these colleges therefore needed serious review.  
Members asked what role technical schools could play in employment creation; how more people could be encouraged to enrol at Further Education and Training colleges; about unqualified teachers; how the administrative work that was needed to be done by teachers affected their teaching time; how much correlation there was between drop-out rates and lack of affordability; and whether there were any linkages between market demands and curricula.

The Council’s final presentation was on crime. South African youth were twice as likely as adults to be victims of at least one crime and that homicide, primarily involving firearms, was the leading cause of death among men between the ages of 15 – 21. Preventing crime, as opposed to responding to it through the criminal justice system, not only significantly reduced the negative social impact but was also more cost effective as it reduced the burden on both the courts and police. Targeted early preventative intervention was of key importance as generalised deterrence was not effective.

The Council recommended a coherent and sustained family behavioural support programme; a dedicated and comprehensive early childhood development programme; an increase in - and targeted funding for – after-school programmes; a mandatory and comprehensive national youth civic service programme; upgraded and sustained diversion programmes for young offenders; subsidised training courses to professionalise police through universities; and finding partnerships with non-governmental organisations and business through which to implement programmes.
Members asked whether the cultural awareness programmes included sports; and whether compulsory education was enforceable.

Meeting report

Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihoods Presentation
Mr Peter Jacobs, Chief Research Specialist, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), said that it was critical that the growth path shifted from trade in basic metals to one with higher knowledge intensity. This would require the continued commitment to achieving world-class infrastructure, especially in energy, water, telecoms and commercial transport. Had telecoms and commercial transport been globally competitive, unemployment could have been 25% lower. As South Africa could not compete on cost alone, emphasis had to be placed on research and development, venture capital and market access arrangements. Most jobs globally came from services in urban areas. This depended on the crowding in of linkages through business transport, appropriate human settlements, functional commuter transport and human development.
Challenges in this regard included the following: the majority of employment was created in cyclical sectors such as retail, security, cleaning and construction; the market could only expand so fast in the context of the massive backlog of unemployed (Government employment schemes were therefore essential); and South Africa had lost one million jobs in 2009/10 with the hardest being hit by this being youth under the age of 30 as well as those with schooling levels lower than matriculation.

The policy implications of this were as follows: performance and value for public spending needed to be achieved; a continued commitment to infrastructure spending was essential; resources needed to be applied to reduce the cost of doing business.

More dramatic attention to the challenges facing youth in accessing post-schooling opportunities was needed. This could be done through financial contribution to culture and recreation, commitment to enlarging further education and training colleges (FETs), the introduction of a youth transitional jobs scheme in the public sector, and continued commitment to the Expanded Public Works Programme II (EPWP II) and the Community Works Programme.

In relation to food security, the HSRC supported the Integrated Food Security Strategy and was establishing policy, strategy, monitoring and evaluation systems. Available evidence pointed to high levels of food insecurity. Despite social grants having had a dramatic effect on reducing severe hunger, under nourishment was still widespread with approximately 50% of households experiencing hunger and under-nutrition. In addition, rural households spent 9% - 15% more than urban ones for the same basic food basket. As the biggest concentrations of hunger were found in four metros, hunger was not a rural challenge but a national one.

More attention needed to be paid to nutrition programmes. Though many key items were already within the budget, stronger institutional models for delivery were needed in some cases. As, for example, 51% of all hungry households qualified for grants but did not receive them, the policy implications were as follows: it was urgent that grants be more fully rolled out, especially to young people; the recent approval to raise the eligibility age of the Child Support Grant (CSG) should help; and an expansion of household food production in order to widen the food groups consumed.  Although commitment to vitamin-A rollout was stated, only 20% of the target group was reached. More funding should be given to community-based delivery. Similarly, though there was a commitment to food fortification programmes, the compounds used were not appropriate. More attention should therefore be given to industrial incentives to encourage firms to fortify foods using the appropriate compounds as well as monitoring and evaluation.

The impact of the combination of policies was not sufficient.  It was currently not possible to extract a food security budget which could be monitored. Most of the funding targeted at nutrition was allocated through the provinces which resulted in uncertainty as to whether these funds will be spent as intended by national policy. The policy implications of this included the following: urgent attention needed to be given to improving nutrition status and food security; food price levels and stability should be attended to; and budgets aimed at improving food security needed to be ring-fenced and monitored.

In terms of rural development, only a small percentage of the rural population was economically active. The policy implications were as follows: the increase in spending on rural development was, although large, still not adequate in meeting the challenges faced here; agricultural support budgets allocated to provinces were very small; critical attention was required to improve water and land management, agricultural support, and research and development. The drafting of a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) had outlined and clarified the Mandate for Rural Development and Reform as well as a three-pronged strategy which included agrarian transformation, rural development and land reform.

Discussion
Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) asked for clarity around 50% of households who qualified for grants but did not receive them.

Mr Jacobs answered that there were numerous instances of households who were eligible for these grants but did not receive them. This was a major area of concern as it was also found that, were these households to receive these grants, it would significantly reduce both child and adult hunger.  

Mr Snell (ANC) asked for comments on possibly regulating food prices.

Mr Jacobs answered that if food security and affordable nutrition were to be made available to all, the prices of essential food items needed to be examined. There needed to be stability in terms of these items’ retail prices.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) asked why people in rural areas were not utilising more traditional means of technology in order to ensure food security.

Mr Jacobs added that the HSRC was working together with the Department of Rural Development around looking into how appropriate technologies for small-scale farmers could be utilised to ensure food security as well as raise productivity.
Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) asked how South Africa compared with other African countries in relation to under nourishment. Did school curricula emphasise agriculture?

Mr Jacobs answered that in South Africa the concern was mainly with nutritional aspects (insufficient nutrition and obesity) whereas the rest of Africa was mainly concerned with under-nutrition. The HSRC was currently working together with the Department of Rural Development around the issue of expansion of school curricula.

The Chairperson asked why, in terms of EPWP II, spending had been so slow. Was the increased spend for rural development really small when considering spending in the rest of the cluster? Was the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) directed at the right people and why was spending with this Programme so slow?

Mr Jacobs answered that the Council’s focus had mainly been around the potential of the EPWP II. Although the spending on rural development was small, what was of greater importance was the type of spending especially in relation to CASP, which focussed primarily on large-scale infrastructural investment. Efficient spending needed to be emphasised.

Women, Urbanization and Settlement
The HSRC reported that it was found that women entering the labour force accounted for most of South Africa’s employment growth over 1995 – 2005. Since 2008, however, women dropping out of the workforce had shot up by 44%. Urban spatial location played a role in this as for the poor the journey to work could limit their chances for economic participation. Although South Africa’s transport subsidies were extensive, they were directed to the working poor as opposed to the unemployed. Research had shown that urbanizing women might not usually achieve economic participation. It had also suggested that the types of settlement where women concentrate were often marginalized in terms of earning opportunities.  Poor women settling in cities concentrated in the urban backyards, subsidy housing and outer shacks. For these urban settlements, women’s per capita household income was similar to rural women’s households. The results suggested that there was little advantage for women from urban migration. There was a strong element of spatial exclusion which faced women. Research had shown that most women with families did not succeed. New policy approaches to urban transport services and subsidisation were needed to meet this spatial challenge.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked whether the research was conducted in South Africa as the results appeared to contradict the perception that the country had made significant strides in the empowerment of women.
Mr Jacobs answered that it was a South African survey undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research and the HSRC.

Ms Olive Shisana, Chief Executive Officer, HSRC, added that while this may be the perception, the reality was that women were still disadvantaged in a very significant way. This was especially prevalent in the workplace.

Mr Gelderblom asked whether these challenges were addressed in the budget and what cooperation there was between the relevant departments to address these challenges.

Mr Jacobs answered that though social grants were reaching women there were other dynamics which had to be factored in. For example, there appeared to be a greater burden placed on women who received grants from their households.

Presentation on Education: Basic and Higher
Mr Anil Kanjee, Deputy Executive Director, HSRC, said that, as the Council was not evaluating the provincial budgets, it could not comment on the delivery of educational services at that level. Challenges for education included access, equity, quality and efficiency. These challenges had led to unequal educational outcomes. Despite significant efforts over the past decade, the majority of the population was still not equipped with the capabilities promised by democracy and development. Though South Africa had put a lot of funds and resources into education, the output, when measured against this input, was minimal. Poorer schools saw less than half of better-resourced schools’ Grade 12 success rates.

Cognitive performance at an early age could predict later performance, especially in mathematics. It was therefore important to intervene and invest in the early years (both in and out of school initiatives) if the predictable course of educational development of individuals was to be changed. Strong mother tongue literacy development was essential for literacy, academic language and numerical skills. Learners did not read and write enough. The use of textbooks, readers and other materials neglected progression and connection across the curriculum. Budgets needed to emphasize a few key areas: foundations for learning programs, training of high quality teachers of African languages, how young people could be kept in school and training institutions. No-fee schools policy was a helpful intervention in the education development trap. Research had found that the quintile system did not work efficiently as, although it worked for Quintile One and Five schools, it was not effective enough at distinguishing between Quintile Two, Three and Four schools. The Council’s recommendation in this regard would be reduce the number of categories to three.
The Council was currently conducting a major audit of all 50 FET colleges in order to ascertain their state of readiness for the requirements of the new Act. Data was being collated on college governance, management and administration, staff and student profiles and efficiency indicators.

In terms of the pathway studies it had conducted, the Council found that, in terms of school and college transitions to the labour market, there was very low absorption of graduates. In the case of higher education transition to the labour market, there was a low absorption of black African non-completers and graduates. In addition, learner aspirations were failing to translate into student enrolments. In terms of the budget, the combination of education and training into a single Ministry was positive for skills development. FET colleges were important sites for intermediate skills development. The budget for these colleges therefore needed serious review.

Discussion
Mr Gelderblom asked what role technical schools could play in employment creation.

Mr Kanjee replied that this was important issue. Young people were not aware that these jobs were attractive jobs in terms of both remuneration and quality of life. Not enough emphasis was placed on this in school curricula. The budget for FET colleges needed review.

Ms Mashigo asked how more people could be encouraged to enrol at FETs.

Mr Kanjee replied that allowing easier transitions within and between the various education pathways could assist in this regard.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) asked what the impediment was to successfully addressing the issues mentioned.

Mr Kanjee answered that a major challenge in this regard was the lack of clarity around the distinction between the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders.

Mr Gelderblom asked what was found around the issue of unqualified teachers. How did the administrative work that was needed to be done by teachers affect their teaching time?

Mr Kanjee answered that this issue had to be seen within the context of a research and development strategy. The issue of teachers being onerously burdened with administrative work was of serious concern and was currently being addressed.

Mr Snell asked how much correlation there was between drop-out rates and lack of affordability.

Mr Kanjee replied that a study had found that many of those who dropped out of educational institutions returned to them at a later stage. However, the system should allow for easier return access for such students.

Mr Ramatlakane asked whether there were any linkages between market demands and curricula.

Mr Kanjee answered that curricula were generally market demand-orientated.

The Fight against Crime
Ms Shisana said that South Africa had one of the highest murder rates in the world with young men forming the bulk of offenders as well as victims of violent crime. South African youth were twice as likely as adults to be victims of at least one crime (43.5% of offenders reporting that they had committed their first criminal act at 10 -15 years of age). Homicide, primarily involving firearms, was the leading cause of death among men between the ages of 15 – 21.

The National Crime Combating Strategy had recognised the need to address the root causes of crime. Preventing crime, as opposed to responding to it through the criminal justice system, not only significantly reduced the negative social impact of crime but was also more cost effective as it reduced the burden on both the courts and police. Targeted early preventative intervention was key as generalised deterrence was not effective. Systemic support to sustain early intervention was equally important. Programmes in this regard focus on primarily on safe schools and post-school activities.

With regard to the budget, the Council recommended a coherent and sustained family behavioural support programme; a dedicated and comprehensive early childhood development programme; an increase in - and targeted funding for – after-school programmes; a mandatory and comprehensive national youth civic service programme; upgraded and sustained diversion programmes for young offenders; subsidised training courses to professionalise police through universities; and funding partnerships with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business through which to implement programmes. It made financial sense to invest in long-term prevention as opposed to only responding to crime. It also made political and social sense to invest in the development of the country’s youth, rather than imprison them.

Discussion
Mr Gelderblom asked whether the cultural awareness programmes included sports.

Ms Shisana answered that extra-mural activities, such as sport, were proven to reduce crime among the youth.

The Chairperson asked whether compulsory education was enforceable.

Ms Shisana answered that though there were many examples of anecdotal evidence in this regard there were scientific findings.

The Chairperson said that, although this was an important issue which needed more discussion, the time constraints had worked against this.

The meeting was adjourned.


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