The Committee made corrections, observations and recommendations to the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report before approving it. The Committee emphasised to the research team that the finalised reports subsequent to the amendments and adoption needed to be coherent, detailed and capture every amendment made during the meeting. Members agreed that vacancies must be filled; Further Education and Training colleges must run awareness campaigns to educate learners and unqualified lecturers should undergo staff development.
The Committee also briefly discussed and adopted the Statutory Bodies of the Department Report. It was recommended that the Department of Higher Education & Training should research and table a report on how it would endeavour to implement Recognition of Prior Learning.
Joint Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report
The Chairperson tabled the Joint Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) for consideration.
A few grammatical corrections were made by Members and thereafter more attention was given to content by the Committee.
Mr W James (DA) said that the wording used needed to be factually correct and clearly articulate what the Committee wanted to say; percentages must be cited correctly and with caution. For example on page 12 under the heading ‘social and school enrichment’ 22% was mentioned but it was not clear as to 22% percent of what, which institution and which year.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) replied that the word currently clarified the timeframe.
Mr James asked if the 22% referred to universities only and if that was so, he suggested that it should be mentioned.
The Chairperson replied that the 22% referred to institutions of higher learning. She advised Members to peruse through the report page by page in order to avoid confusion.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said that Members must ask themselves whether the Report had reflected their views properly.
Ms N Vukuza (ANC) referred to page 4 and said it was important to produce a quality Report with caution. In light of this, she argued that the words ‘increase’ and ‘improve’ should not be used in vain. They must be explained further, for example the Report must mention how mush increase (numbers must be cited). Also, it must be explained how progress was made; the Report must mention that legislation was amended in order to align it with the mandate of the Department.
The Chairperson agreed with this observation.
Mr James suggested that the whole paragraph be rewritten.
At this point The Chairperson appealed to the research team to pay attention to detail.
Mr van der Westhuizen commented that there were problems with the education system that were not mentioned in the Report. This included factors such as the retention rate of learners, low pass rate.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to make generic and new comments at the end of the meeting.
Ms J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) was concerned about the wording used, ’improving curriculum’. The Committee was not sure whether there was improvement since the process referred to was merely a review of the curriculum.
Ms N Gina (ANC) replied that through the task team, improvement was done. She suggested that they use both the words review and improve.
Ms Kloppers-Lourens agreed.
Ms Mushwana asked the research team to be consistent when mentioning percentages.
Mr van der Westhuizen referred to page 11 and questioned the figure relating to FET colleges. Was it 16 colleges out of 32 or 16 colleges out of 52 that had submitted reports? He believed it was the former and asked the researchers to verify this and make the necessary change to the Report.
The Chairperson replied that the opening sentence clearly articulated that it referred to 50 colleges.
Mr van der Westhuizen clarified that the 16 colleges referred to were out of 32 as the remaining could not submit their reports on time.
The Chairperson understood and asked the research team to verify this.
Mr van der Westhuizen believed that the staff problems at colleges were not only because college councils were failing, there was more to it.
The Chairperson ruled Mr van der Westhuizen out of order and asked the Committee Secretary to note down his concern for another meeting. The Chairperson emphasised that no new issues would be accepted.
Ms Gina suggested that the word ‘transferring’ should be changed to ‘articulation’ so that the paragraph would not lose its meaning.
Ms Gina referred to page 12 and suggested that the paragraph on enrichment programmes should be numbered or bulleted because there were too many things clustered in one paragraph.
Ms Mushwana agreed and noted that numbering or bullets were important for consistency.
The Chairperson agreed and added that acronyms should not be used unless there was a glossary.
Ms Vukuza said that sentences needed improvement. For example, saying the Department worked closely with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was not an achievement in itself. It must be clearly articulated what the achievements were.
Ms Kloppers-Lourens referred to page 14 and asked why the term ‘observations’ was still used as the Committee had expressed concerns about its usage in the previous meeting.
The Chairperson replied that the term was used by the Department and therefore remained unchanged.
Ms Vukuza said that the term could be used for consistency of the report; however the mandate of the Committee was not to observe but to provide oversight.
Ms Mushwana agreed that the Committee’s role was to oversee the Department and not merely observe.
Ms Kloppers-Lourens emphasised the need for numbering, she said it is good for referencing. She also suggested that a table of contents be included at the beginning of the report.
The Committee agreed to this suggestion.
Ms F Chohan (ANC) referred to page 15 and suggested the addition of a heading, which would read as follows ‘Assessment and Recommendation’. In addition, she recommended the insertion of an introductory paragraph.
Ms Chohan explained that the Committee had no mandate reports, Parliament did. That was the reason why reports at the end always said ‘report to be considered’. She urged the Committee not to deviate from that practice.
The Chairperson checked whether the Committee agreed with Chohan and the Committee agreed. The Chairperson asked if there were any more content issues.
Mr van der Westhuizen raised an issue about pension funds at the colleges.
The Chairperson asked him to keep that viewpoint for another meeting.
Ms Vukuza recommended that vacancies must be filled; FETs must run awareness campaigns to educate learners and unqualified lecturers should undergo staff development.
The Committee agreed.
The Report was unanimously adopted by both the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training.
The Chairperson had to leave for another meeting and Ms Chohan chaired the rest of the meeting.
Statutory Bodies of the Department Report
The Chairperson invited Members to give their input on the report.
Ms Gina noted that there were issues that were noted in previous meeting that were not in the report, for example unfilled vacancies, the slow progress of the teacher-laptop initiative.
Ms Mushwana clarified that teachers were not supposed to pay for the laptops.
The Chairperson said that the recommendations would stay as suggested. On teacher-laptop initiative, the Department should give the Committee a specific date for when those laptops would be rolled out.
Ms Mushwana asked the researchers to go back and check ‘Education Labour relations Council (ELRC), she said there were many issue there.
Ms Gina said not much had been done regarding Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The Committee should not just drop it but recognise the lack of implementation.
The Chairperson recommended that the Department of Higher Education & Training should research and table a report on how it would endeavour to implement RPL.
Ms Vukuza recommended a strict adherence of tender process management, there was a need for oversight.
The Chairperson said when making recommendations, the Committee should be careful to mention exactly which entity/Department was ought to do what.
Ms Vukuza urged Members to submit recommendations to the House. It must be included in the report that the Committee had expressed dismay about the absence of the Chairperson of the NSFAS Board. She added that problems that entities have were not just sprung but they were presented by the entities themselves.
The Chairperson said that the entire process should be handled better the next time. Two weeks to meet entities then write a report was not enough time
The report was unanimously adopted by both the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training.
The meeting was adjourned.