Basic Education Laws Amendments Bill [B36B-2010]: concurrence; Committee's in-loco visit to Schools of Skills in Western Cape; Petition to Withdrawal Subsidies from Six Eastern Cape Independent Schools

Basic Education

07 March 2011
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The amendments agreed to the Basic Education Laws Amendments Bill [B36-2010] were adopted without any further changes.

The Draft Report on the Petition against the Withdrawal of Subsidies from Six Eastern Cape Independent Schools was also adopted without any changes.

Consideration of the Draft Report on the Basic Education Public Hearings concerning Access and Delivery of Quality Education was postponed to the next meeting.

The Draft Report on the Committee’s Attendance at the National Teaching Awards Ceremony 2010 was also adopted without any changes. The Chairperson assured Members of the Committee that they would each receive a copy of Minister Trevor Manuel’s speech given at the ceremony.

After much debate on whether the Committee’s recommendations in its Draft Report on its in-loco visit to schools of skills in the Western Cape were strong and clear enough, the Committee adopted it without any changes and the Chairperson decided that it would be sent to the National Council of Provinces for consideration before tabling it to the national Department of Basic Education.  

The Committee’s previous minutes were also been adopted with minor changes.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting with a few concerns regarding Members’ attendance at meetings and the inadequate apologies received. She then made the Committee aware of a number of invitations received requesting the Portfolio Committee’s attendance to a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Conference to develop skills and a capable workforce on 24 and 25 March 2011, the Equity in the Realisation of Child Rights in South Africa conference later in the month, as well as the Committee’s meeting in Pretoria with the Department of Basic Education, the date of which was still to be confirmed.

Basic Education Laws Amendments Bill [B36B-2010]: Concurrence
The Chairperson guided the Members through the previously tabled and adopted Bill to ascertain whether the suggested amendments by the Committee, made the week prior, were reflected correctly. A comprehensive list of specific clauses, and how they had been amended, was handed out at the same time [refer to document B36A-2010].

All Members agreed that the Bill was in order, and the Chairperson informed everyone that once the Bill had made its way from the Committee Section to the printers and the Announcements, Tablings and Committee reports (ATC), the Bill would then be tabled for debate to the National Assembly before it could become an act. The Chairperson asked the Committee what their respective thoughts about the Bill were.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) replied by voicing his reservations on two particular clauses that his party had previously made known its concerns about, but otherwise did support the Bill.

Draft Report on Petition against the Withdrawal of Subsidies from Six Eastern Cape Independent Schools
The Members were expected to be familiar with contents of the draft report. The Chairperson merely guided the Committee through the pages for any glaring mistakes and new additions such as the input by the Department on page 2.

The report was adopted without amendments.

The Chairperson further noted that when the document was sent to ATC, letters should be sent to Honourable Dr Z Luyenge and the Petitions Committee notifying them of the conclusion which the Committee outlined in its report pertaining to the laws and policies that existed in governing independent schools.

Draft Report on the Basic Education Public Hearings concerning Access and Delivery of Quality Education  
The Chairperson again guided Members through the document page by page; however it came to the attention of the Chairperson that Members had not read and were not familiar with the contents of the report.

Mr Mpontshane moved to shift the consideration of this report to the following week’s meeting as Members had been concentrating on the Bill; it would also allow him to add on his recommendations before the report was passed.

This was accepted by the Chairperson and Committee and the item was postponed to the next meeting provided that the Members would be thorough in their reading.

Draft Report on Committee’s Attendance at the National Teaching Awards Ceremony 2010
The Chairperson noted that while it was not necessary to have compiled a report on such a matter, she felt it was appropriate as the Committee’s funds had been used to transport the delegation to the ceremony and back, as well as to allow those teachers who had achieved awards to be documented by the Committee.

Mr Mpontshane further requested if it would be possible to obtain the transcription of Minister Trevor Manuel’s speech presented at the ceremony. The report was adopted without any amendments.

Draft Report on Committee’s in-loco visit to Schools of Skills in the Western Cape
The visit had occurred in April of 2010 and the report reflected the changes (in bold) that the Committee had suggested when it was first tabled [see document]. The Chairperson guided the Members page by page highlighting the insertions and changes. She highlighted the recommendations made at the end of the document, asking whether Members were satisfied with them.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) inquired why in recommendation 7.2 [典he issue of long waiting list for admission into these schools needs to be addressed as this affects learners negatively脳 it was worded 鍍he issue of, she wanted to know why was it an 妬ssue.

Mr Mpontshane replied that when these matters were raised by the principals of the schools they referred to them as issues that needed sorting out, hence the Committee labelled them issues.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) noting that the Committee had done well to include recommendations in its report, showed his unhappiness at how long the process had taken, considering that the visit and these issues had been pointed out close to a year ago. He also wanted the recommendations to be clearly spelled out and articulated and highlight by whom those problems could be solved. Some issues required the Department’s intervention and attention while others could be solved by engaging key role players. He asked the Committee to please not forget about these issues but to continue the task of monitoring so that the recommendations were realised; as these were issues that could have been preventable this year were it not for the long delay it had taken to get to this point.

Mr N Kganyago (UDM) pointed to the recommendation that stated, “The building of more schools is the ultimate solution [pg9]” emphasizing that this was not strong enough. When and by whom would these schools be built? He proposed that the Committee consider putting forward some sort of time line compelling the Department to make a commitment to when and how they would resolve such issues.

The Chairperson suggested perhaps putting a rider clause at the end of the report compelling the Department to appear before the Committee.

Mr Mpontshane posed his concerns about the Committee’s putting time strains and compulsions on the Department, especially since the Department had made it clear that the Committee could not tell it what to do. He suggested rather to take the recommendations as they stood to the provincial Department and not the national, and begin a conversation about solving these issues there.

Ms Mushwana referred to the 7.4 paragraph mentioned earlier about building more schools of skills, and wanted the Committee to consider emphasizing this recommendation as a priority.

Mr Makhubele agreed with the suggestion that the Committee liaise directly with the national Department rather than the provincial so that these recommendations could be fully and effectively realised, noting that some of the issues that needed resolving did not need funding but merely a putting together of heads to try and resolve the problems.

The Chairperson retorted to the comment of the Department not taking instructions from the Committee, stating that the Committee had a function of oversight; and giving time lines and compelling the Department to appear on certain issues was within the Committee’s right.

Mr Mpontshane noted the Chairperson’s sentiments, but further suggested that before the recommendations were taken to the national Department, the Committee first go through the provincial Department so as to have its input.

The Chairperson then resolved the matter by stating that the recommendations, along with the report, must be taken to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) before they could be taken to the National Department. The draft report, however, was adopted without any changes at this point.

Draft minutes: adoption
The draft minutes of 22 February 2011, 01 March 2011, 02 March 2011, and 03 March 2011 were all adopted with minor changes. It was noted, however, following the query of one of the Members, that those members not present but who had adequate reasons and gave apologies for their absence would not be penalised.  

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the Department was due to table its budget policy report soon, even though its documentation was not in order, as the process could not wait any longer. The date for this, however, would need to be worked out.

Mr Mpontshane asked whether the Minister’s report into the Eastern Cape Department of Education was available yet, as he had heard rumours of an administrator being deployed by the Department there, but no official word had been given to the Committee. It was decided that the Committee Secretary would write a letter requesting the report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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