Basic Education Portfolio Committee: Outstanding Reports

Basic Education

15 November 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Kubayi
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered three outstanding reports. The Report of visit to Provincial Exam Centres in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal generated the most discussion. Even though Members approved the report (with amendments), they expressed concern about the negative reception they got from officials in KwaZulu-Natal. They felt undermined by the conduct of some officials during the visit. They also felt that the shortage of computers for Information Technology students hampered learning.

The Report on the visit to Mpumalanga Department of Education was approved while the adoption of the Report on the Visit to Schools of Skills in the Western Cape was postponed.

Meeting report

Report of visit to Provincial Exam Centres in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal
The Chairperson went through the report page by page, and suggested that point 1.2 should reflect the fact that the Committee was invited by the KZN Provincial Education Department.

The Chairperson suggested that the role of Umalusi had to be reflected. The report had also failed to reflect that the KZN Department of Education had improved the security of Grade 12 question papers.

Mr D Smiles (DA) asked whether there were injuries to humans or damage to question papers when an accident happened during the delivery of question papers.

The Chairperson replied that no one was injured and the question papers remained secured.

Members requested the Committee Secretary, Mr Llewellyn Brown, to verify the number of monitors that were deployed for Grade 12 examinations 2010 as reflected on page 3 of the report.

Mr N Kganyago (UDM) asked for clarity on the safety levels of nodal points where the question papers were delivered.

A Member pointed out that discussion about the safety of nodal points was derailing the purpose of the meeting, which was consideration and adoption.

Ms A Mda (COPE) referred to the report and said that the 46% pass rate at Eric Nxumalo High School was not satisfactory when other schools could achieve 100 per cent.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) felt that this was an improvement from the previous 34 % pass rate and it had to be acknowledged.

Ms Mda said that even the Whip of the Provincial Legislature had lashed out at the principal of Nxumalo High School for aiming so low, and Ms Gina concurred.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee could just reconstruct the sentence so that it reflected the views of the Committee regarding the pass rate in that school.

Mr Z Makhubela (ANC) reminded Members not to forget the promise they made during the trip to address the computer shortage and the power cuts that affected the Information Technology Grade 12 examination sitting.

The Chairperson pointed referred to page 8 and highlighted that ICESA was a private ICT institution that was used for writing the ICT Grade 12 examination paper after the power failure.

Concerning the recommendations, the Chairpersons said that the first paragraph on page 8 should be specific that it was referring to Mpumalanga. The conclusion should specify that the Deputy Director General and the Acting Superintendent had left the meeting with the Committee before answering the questions. She got the impression that the two officials were undermining the Committee because junior officials could not answer questions. It appeared that the senior officials had set up Mr Mthembu who was a junior official to fail.

Mr Makhubela agreed and further suggested that the Committee should do a follow up and set up a deadline for all recommendations to be met before the 2011 grade 12 exams.

Ms Mda suggested that the conclusion should reflect that Dr Sishi was committed to her work. It was very rare to find such dedication in the public service. Dr Sishi did not try to hide challenges or failures and had not been defensive.

Members agreed unanimously with Ms Mda’s suggestion.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) advised that the objectives of the visit said nothing about the behaviour of officials; therefore it should be in the conclusion rather than recommendations.

The Chairperson indicated that the behaviour of the senior officials during the Committee visit to KZN impacted on the Committee, she said that only the people who made decisions were supposed to interact with the Committee, not junior officials.

Ms Mda suggested that the observations should reflect the cold welcome that the Committee had received from the Acting superintendent.

Mr Kganyago asked whether the superintendent knew beforehand about the visit.

The Chairperson replied in the affirmative.

Mr Skhosana emphasised that the Committee was not blaming anyone but simply voicing its concerns.

The report was adopted with amendments.

Report on Visit to Schools of Skills in the Western Cape
The Chairperson invited Members to make comments and suggest amendments.

Ms N Gina (ANC) was satisfied with the report except for minor spelling errors.

The Chairperson advised that the Committee would not adopt the report after the Content Advisor had fixed all the errors.

Report on visit to Mpumalanga Department of Education
The Chairperson invited Members give their inputs.

Members were generally satisfied with the Report and approved it with a few minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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