2011 Annual National Assessment; School Infrastructure; Basic Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010]: NCOP Amendments

Committee: Basic Education

Chairperson: Ms M Malgas (ANC)

Date of Meeting: 15 Aug 2011

Summary

Three amendments had been made to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010] by the National Council of Provinces and the Long Title amended to reflect these amendments to the Bill. Other minor amendments were technical in nature. Clause 7 had been amended to include the addition of the words ‘within the 14 day period’. This was the imposed time period in which the MEC had to determine a suitable sanction after receiving a learner’s appeal. This was so the learner would be guaranteed legal certainty that some sort of sanction would be imposed within 14 days of the determination of the appeal. An amendment to clause 19 was about SACE’s responsibility for managing the systems for Continuing Professional Teacher Development. The words ‘within available resources’ was omitted because in order for SACE to manage the system successfully it would need voted funds from Parliament and additional funds from DBE to be made available to SACE. The amendment to clause 19 led to the insertion of the phrase ‘money appropriated from Parliament’ to be added to clause 20. The Chairperson said that the Committee would deliberate on the Bill and was expected to pass the amendments the following week.

DBE then briefed the Committee on the 2011 Annual National Assessment (ANA) which focused on the qualitative analysis that had been performed since the release of literacy and numeracy scores collected from 19 470 Grade 3 learners (827 schools) and from the Language and Mathematics scores collected from 19 397 Grade 6 learners (840 schools). Results indicated that over half of the learners did not achieve the competencies specified in the curriculum (<35%). In Grade 6, 70% of learners fell into this category. Few learners fell into the outstanding category (70-100%). Only 3% of learners in Grade 6 mathematics achieved 70-100%. In Grade 3 numeracy mean performance was lower compared to performance in literacy. However in Grade 6, this result was reversed.

The lower performance in Grade 4 compared to Grade 3 (universal ANA data) could be attributed largely to the transition from mother-tongue instruction to the language of learning and teaching. This issue was being addressed in the Curriculum Revision process.
Since March 2011, teachers had been working on the outcome of ANA but remedial measures were not yet being implemented across all schools in the nation. Principals and Deputy Principals would enter into performance agreements with clear performance targets and measured in terms of the academic performance of the school and against the quality of management of the school. These agreements were currently at the Education Labour Relations Council and finality on the matter was being discussed between DBE and trade unions.

Members asked if a memorandum for markers could be implemented to prevent the problem of under and over marking; for clarification on the meaning of verified ANA results; if there were any challenges in the ANA process; if there was a time frame for implementation of intervention programmes to deal with challenges; how the reversal of results in numeracy and literacy between Grade 3 and Grade 6 could be explained; what DBE was proposing in order to address the issue of language of learning and teaching; and if DBE took into account union action with regard to the performance contracts with principals and deputy principals.

DBE also spoke about the Accelerated Schools
Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) for 2010-2014. ASIDI had been allocated R700 million for the first 50 mud houses to be replaced in the Mthata, Libode and Lusikisiki districts (Eastern Cape) in the 2011/12 financial year. An additional 21 schools had been identified in Dutywa (8), Qumbu (8), Mthata (2) and Lusikisiki (3) and were also expected to be completed in the current financial year. In 2012-2014, an additional 437 structures would be constructed, with the majority of schools (378) being in the Eastern Cape. It was expected that all schools in Gauteng and the Western Cape would have basic services by the end of the financial year 2011/12. In 2012/13, 714 schools in the remaining seven provinces would receive electricity (R335 million); 410 schools would receive sanitation (R163 million) and 969 schools would receive water (R207 million). In the first quarter of the financial year, 22% of the R8.7 billion educational infrastructure budget had been spent by provinces, which was 3% less than expected. Progress in the first quarter on infrastructure targets for facilities such as libraries, laboratories and classrooms, as well as for basic services and upgrading of basic services, fences and sporting facilities had been documented clearly for all provinces and was being monitored closely.

Members asked if
the infrastructure budget was controlled provincially or nationally; how DBE ensured that provinces which were over or underspending on their infrastructure allocation in the first quarter would make their targets in the fourth quarter; for more information on the infrastructure debt in Mpumalanga which had resulted in the use of funds from the current budget; and for clarity on why the budget for 61 sanitation projects in the Eastern Cape was R45 million while the budget for 60 sanitation projects in KZN was R42 million.


Minutes

NCOP Amendments to Basic Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010]
Mr Chris Leukes, Director of Legal Services: Department of Basic Education, briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the amendments made by the Select Committee on Basic Education to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010]. In main, the Bill had been accepted by the Select Committee and all parties of the provinces.

Clause 7, page 4, line 18:
The MEC was given the authority to ensure that a suitable sanction was imposed on the learner after appeal was made to the MEC. The amendment was to add ‘within 14 days’ after the word ‘learner’. This was to ensure that the process proceeded quickly. It was proposed by the Western Cape province and adopted by the Select Committee.
 
Clause 19, page 7, line 29:
Should read (iv) must manage the systems for Continuing Professional Teacher Development of all educators.  The wording in the Bill passed by the Committee and House contained the wording ‘within available resources’. This was omitted because in terms of policy, DBE had to contribute towards the Continuing Professional Teacher Development systems and it could not be up to South African Council for Educators (SACE) within its available resources to manage resources. It was a massive system which needed dedicated funding from the state.

Clause 20, page 7, line 35
The Amendment to Clause 19 led to the insertion of the words ‘money appropriated from Parliament’.

All other amendments were technical in nature. The Long Title had been amended to reflect the amendments.

Discussion
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked for clarity on whether exceeding 14 days would create legal problems.

Mr Leukes replied that the addition of the words ‘within the 14 day period’ was not for the learner’s appeal but was the time period in which the MEC must determine a suitable sanction after the appeal was received. The DBE felt that this time period was adequate and would ensure no unnecessary bureaucratic delay. Dealing with possible expulsion of a learner was a sensitive, volatile issue.

Mr W James (DA) asked why management of the Continuing Professional Teacher Development system was restricted to SACE.
 
Ms N Gina (ANC) asked why ‘available resources’ was included under SACE’s mandate when it was understood that it would not be its core mandate to resource anything on a continual basis.

Mr Leukes replied that a policy decision taken by DBE together with SACE and other educational role players was that for SACE to manage the system successfully, it would need voted funds from Parliament and additional funds from DBE to be made available to SACE. In terms of legislation, the wording had to be changed in order to make the dedicated resources and DBE funds available.

Mr Mpontshane asked what would happen if the MEC failed to make a decision within 14 days.

Mr Leukes said, in terms of law, the party prejudiced by the decision delay could take the MEC to court.

Adv Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, clarified that the process for the learner (who was suspended) to appeal was not limited to 14 days. However, if on appeal the MEC upheld the decision (negative for the learner), the learner would be guaranteed legal certainty that some sort of sanction would be imposed within 14 days of the determination of the appeal. Failure by an MEC to comply would result in provisions in favour of the learner. 

Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked how SACE would account to the DBE for teacher development.

Mr Leukes said that accountability measures were covered within the existing SACE Act.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would deliberate on the Bill and was expected to pass the amendments the following week.

The 2011 Annual National Assessment
Dr S (Paddy) Padayachee, DBE Acting Deputy Director General: Planning, said that the presentation would focus on those areas specifically requested by the Committee.

Dr Rufus Poliah, Acting Chief Director: National Examinations and Assessment, presented briefly on the purpose, limitations and trends in learner performance of Annual National Assessment (ANA) (see handout) and focused on the qualitative analysis that had been done since the release of the results of ANA 2011. DBE was confident of the results from the verified ANA results on Grade 3 and Grade 6 and 2011 ANA results would be used as a baseline for DBE to measure future progress.

Literacy and Numeracy scores were collected from 19 470 Grade 3 learners (827 schools) and Language and Mathematics scores were collected from 19 397 Grade 6 learners (840 schools). ANA tests indicated that over half of the learners did not achieve the competencies specified in the curriculum.

In numeracy in Grade 3, learners’ mean performance was lower compared to performance in literacy and more learners performed at level 1 (1-34%) compared to performance in literacy. In literacy in Grade 3, 53% of learners performed at level 1, while 11% performed at level 4 (70-100%). Overall mean learner performance in literacy in Grade 6 was lower than in Grade 3. In language in Grade 6, 70% of learners performed at level 1 and 3% performed at level 4. In Grade 6, performance in mathematics was similar to that of language.

Preliminary findings of Universal ANA 2011 data showed that learners in Grade 1 to Grade 5 performed progressively less well in both literacy and numeracy. Results for Grade 1 and 2 were very promising and Grade 6 results were marginally better than for Grade 5. The factors contributing to the relatively good results in Grades 1 and 2 included: expansion of Grade R; introduction of standardized learning material for Grade R; introduction of Foundations for Learning; and interventions to improve literacy and numeracy in the Foundation Phase. The lower performance in Grade 3 compared to Grade 2 could be as a result of the interventions not having taken effect at the time of scale. The lower performance in Grade 4 compared to Grade 3 could be attributed largely to the transition from mother-tongue instruction to the language of learning and teaching introduced in Grade 4. This issue was being addressed in the Curriculum Revision process. Generally, girls tended to perform better than boys in all grades.

Qualitative analysis findings were that: handwriting was a basic requirement to express their knowledge and skill; learners were unable to read and follow written instructions; learners lacked basic vocabulary to express themselves, especially from Grade 4 upwards; the rate at which learning was taking place was slow – teacher was dealing with a backlog of learning from previous grades; and learners in the higher grades (Grades 4, 5 and 6) displayed learning deficiencies in basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Principals and Deputy Principals would enter into performance agreements with clear performance targets. Performance would be measured in terms of the academic performance of the school and against the quality of management of the school. Significant interventions for improvement of learning, teaching, school functionality and accountability in the system (see pages 36-42) included the Quality of Learning and Teaching Campaign (QTLC); Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative; the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit; Foundations for Learning Campaign; the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS); improved accountability, monitoring; addressing the leap in subjects between foundation and intermediate phase; and language of learning and teaching from Grade 1. The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative was an avenue for DBE to ensure that all schools, rural and urban, would function optimally by 2014.

Discussion
Mr N Kganyago (UDM) commented that if an independent marker gave a higher mark than the teacher, it may reflect the fact that a competent marker did not depend on the memorandum to give credit to a learner where credit was due. There was also a small portion of learners who failed at the marking centre after passing in the classroom. He felt that in this case, someone had failed the learner.

Mr D Smiles (DA) asked if a memorandum for markers could be implemented as a universal tool to prevent the problem of under and over marking.

Dr Poliah replied that marking was a process of judgment and it was important to ensure that every marker had the competency to make that judgment. DBE was exploring the option of setting up ANA centres for Grades 3, 6 and 9 markers where marking guidelines would be discussed and training would be given. It would be an expensive project but was necessary for a quality marking outcome in future.

Mr Kganyago said that he was concerned that exchange of papers for marking between students at lower grades would not be an appropriate form of marking.

Dr Poliah said that peer assessment did not happen at the lower grades. In higher grades, students could be asked to assess each other’s work.

Mr Kganyago suggested that administration of instruments should be uniform at schools across the nation.

Dr Poliah replied that conditions of administrations for exams and assessment would be the same across the country. The model being implemented was called the McDonald’s model. Cost would be high but well spent to ensure that learners had the same exam experience irrespective of varying conditions.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) asked for clarification on the meaning of verified ANA results and if there were any challenges in the ANA process.

Mr C Moni (ANC) asked how the limitations during the ANA process affected the conclusions made.

Mr Smiles asked if a tabled form of the deviation between universal and verified assessment could be presented so that conclusions could be drawn between the two forms of assessment.

Dr Poliah replied that the procedure followed in administration of the verification ANA was carried out under controlled conditions. The marking was done by the teacher in the classroom and then remarked by the external body. DBE was confident that the results were accurate and there were no limitations in the verification ANA process.

Mr Padayachee added that the universal ANA results were higher and would have led to a false sense of security. The data was not reliable. The HSRC was the service provider involved in verification and this verified data was valid. No standardization had been applied after receiving the analysis from the HSRC. Comparison between universal and verification ANA would lead to unreliable conclusions.

Mr Smiles asked if the analysis part of ANA could be simplified to be understood by all in education so that it could lead to improved quality of education.

Dr Poliah agreed that the analysis should be sold as a simple document to teachers, parents and other role players to highlight problems and what could be done to remedy them.

Mr Makhubele asked if there was a time frame for when intervention programmes would be implemented to deal with challenges that had been identified.

Mr Skosana asked if DBE was sharing its research on a national, provincial and local level so that together all strengths could overcome challenges and objectives could be met.

Dr Poliah said that socio-economic problems in some areas meant that it would take longer to address problems in those areas. Interventions had to be immediate and many that had been described had been implemented. From March 2011, teachers had been working on the outcome of ANA but remedial measures were not being implemented across all schools. The situation would be monitored at national, provincial and district level.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked what DBE was proposing in order to address the issue of language of learning and teaching, which was affecting young learners’ results.

Dr Poliah replied that Grade 1-3 tests were written in their mother-language but from Grade 4 they were written in the language of learning and teaching. The measure in place was for the language of learning and teaching to be implemented from Grade 1.

Mr Moni asked how the reversal of results in numeracy and literacy at Grade 6 could be explained.

Dr Poliah replied that generally learners tended to perform better in literacy because language was used for every day communication. The reason why at Grade 6 learners performed better in numeracy than literacy would be further investigated.

Mr Mpontshane said principals and deputy principals entering into performance contracts with clear performance targets would greatly help the system. The establishment crumbled when authority of principals was undermined, accompanied by lack of accountability. He asked if DBE took into account past action of principals themselves, at union level, to anticipate arguments around the introduction of performance contracts.

Mr Padayachee replied that the performance agreements were currently at the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) and finality on the matter was being discussed between DBE and trade unions. More detail would be shared with the Committee in that regard. The relevant DBE officials could be requested to brief the Committee on the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign.

Mr Mpontshane asked how DBE would influence policy on deployment of competent staff.

This question was not answered.

The Chairperson said that the presentation had been silent on inclusive education.

Dr Poliah said that inclusive education was a priority of government and that papers had been adapted for Braille and for students with hearing disability. However some schools had not communicated their requirements adequately and at the last minute it was not possible to duplicate Braille papers.

Mr Padayachee added that provision was made for adaptation of papers. More detail on the results of written adapted papers would be made available to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked for clarification on whether instruction given from ANA in the Eastern Cape was from the province or district level. There was confusion around operations on the ground.

Mr Padayachee said that any questions outstanding would be answered in follow up communication.

School Infrastructure
Mr Solly Mafoko, DBE Director: Physical Resources Planning, said that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) 2010-2014 was focused on its four strand strategy.
• 3 627 schools provided with basic safety functionality – water, sanitation and electricity
• Replace all entirely inappropriate structures
• Replace all 395 entire mud schools in the Eastern Cape to optimum functionality
• Upgrade schools to optimum functionality by providing core spaces – libraries, laboratories, administration blocks.

ASIDI had been allocated R700 million for the first 50 mud houses to be replaced in the Mthata, Libode and Lusikisiki districts (Eastern Cape) in the 2011/12 financial year. The Development Bank of South Africa was the implementing agent and a Professional Service Provider for detailed scoping and finalization of design would be announced on 19 August 2011. The sites for the 50 schools would be allocated to pre-qualified contractors on 3 October 2011. An additional 21 schools had been identified in Dutywa (8), Qumbu (8), Mthata (2) and Lusikisiki (3) to be completed in the current financial year. In 2012-2014, an additional 437 structures would be constructed, with the majority of schools (378) being in the Eastern Cape.

The budget for water, sanitation and electricity projects in provinces for 2011/12 was R253 million and it was expected that all schools in Gauteng and the Western Cape would have basic services by the end of the financial year 2011/12. In 2012/13, 714 schools in the remaining 7 provinces would receive electricity (R335 million); 410 schools would receive sanitation (R163 million) and 969 schools would receive water (R207 million). (See handout for more detail on itemized provincial allocations).

Water and sanitation would be addressed in conjunction with the Departments of Water Affairs (water) and Human Settlements (sanitation) as part of the Rural Household Infrastructure Programme 2011/12. Eskom would be responsible for electrification of schools and would be managed by the Department of Energy.

Over and above the management of ASIDI, DBE had the responsibility of managing the education infrastructure budgets of provinces. In the first quarter of the financial year, 22% of the R8.7 billion infrastructure budget had been spent by provinces, which was 3% less than expected. However, the rate of spending in provinces varied and DBE was monitoring this spending closely. Mpumalanga was experiencing challenges from projects carried over from the previous financial year. Targets for new facilities such as libraries, laboratories and classrooms, as well as basic services and upgrading of basic services, fences and sporting facilities had been documented for all provinces.

In terms of monitoring and evaluation, DBE would be monitoring infrastructure targets using the Infrastructure Reporting Model (IRM); Provincial project lists had been posted on the DBE website for public knowledge to promote accountability; the Programme Support Unit (PSU) would monitor implementation and progress of provincial projects; the Provincial Planning and Monitoring Teams (PPMT) would also monitor projects at a provincial level; and the Programme Steering Committee,
Heads of Education Departments Committee (HEDCOM) and Council of Education Ministers (CEM) would monitor reports on a more technical basis at national level.

Discussion
Mr Mpontshane said that DBE had issued School Realities annual reports over the years so that progress by DBE could be tracked. Based on the report, tremendous progress had been made.

Mr Skosana asked if the infrastructure budget was controlled by provinces or the national department - which body was responsible for the 7% spent by the Eastern Cape.

Mr Padayachee said that the accounting officer was the Head of Department and that the money had been spent by the province. Underspending in the Eastern Cape needed to be separated from the other eight provinces.

Ms Mushwana asked how DBE ensured that provinces which were over or underspending on their infrastructure allocation in the first quarter would make their targets in the fourth quarter.

Mr Padayachee replied that DBE undertook oversight visits to provincial departments and supported them to ensure spending on all line items was appropriate. Provincial funding for infrastructure was based on the equitable share of R3.3 billion and the grant of R5.5 billion. This was transferred by the National Treasury to the National Department which then made quarterly transfers. There were conditions attached to these payments based on reporting and progress and where DBE identified lack of progress, interventions were implemented and blockages were removed. The R5.5 billion was not totally controlled by DBE but was a transfer to the provinces. In the eight provinces DBE was interacting with units which were capable of delivering and exceeding targets. In this case DBE could show Treasury how future funding could be brought forward. There would not be failure of delivery in the eight provinces. Overspending was managed and not based on irresponsible action. ASIDI was controlling over and underspending and this could be explained by DBE.

Mr Skosana asked for clarity on the nature of the infrastructure debt in Mpumalanga which had resulted in the increased use of funds from the current budget.

Mr Mafoko said that Mpumalanga had underspent on infrastructure expenditure in the past few financial years. DBE had intervened and their projects started moving toward the end of the past financial year and continued into the current financial year. The province was relying on roll-over funds which would only be paid at the time of the appropriation budget. However DBE had cautioned the province not to rely on funds which had not yet been approved but was assisting it with managing and planning for subsequent financial years. There were multi-year projects in all provinces but challenges were obvious in Mpumalanga.

Mr Kganyago asked for clarity on the reason why the budget for 61 sanitation projects in the Eastern Cape was R45 million and the budget for 60 sanitation projects in KZN was R42 million.

Mr Mafoko said that the majority of schools in the rural Eastern Cape were small schools and the number of students determined the number of toilet seats. There may be three toilet seats for girls and two for boys per 100 students compared to 10 seats per 100 students in the larger schools.

The Chairperson asked what the progress was for revitalization of technical schools.

Mr Padayachee said that the branch of education responsible for technical schools could be requested to present a progress report to the Committee. DBE was aware that the programme had performed poorly in terms of spending and a project manager would be assisting with delivery of the projects.

The Chairperson requested that the responsible branch report to the Committee on progress with the technical schools. She also asked for the School Realities Report of 1997 and 2000 and a status report on the number of bursaries for teachers and the progress on placement of teachers in the provinces.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix
School
Realities reports available on the DBE website:

 

School Realities 2010, EMIS10/2/006

August 2010

Download

 

School Realities 2009, EMIS09/2/005

September 2009

Download

 

School realities 2008, EMIS08/2/004

November 2008

Download

 

School Realities 2007, EMIS07/2/003

December 2007

Download

 

School Realities 2006, EMIS06/2/002

October 2006

Download

 

School Realities 2005, EMIS05/2/001

February 2006

Download