The Department of Basic Education summarised the amendments to Clauses 7, 19 and 20, the Long Title and Memorandum of the Objects of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010]. Thereafter, the Committee voted in favour of the Bill.
The Committee briefly discussed the draft report on the progress made by the Department towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Members suggested that the Annual National Assessment results on numeracy and literacy would better reflect what was achieved by Department; that ‘access with a view to quality education’, would more seriously reflect the goal than access to education in general; that supporting statistics explaining the status of access to education and quality of education should be included; and that the word ‘intensify’ should be qualified. Members also suggested that since recommendations typically reflected a weakness which had been identified, the report should include what had been done around issues of access and quality. The Chairperson deferred the adoption of the report to the following week. Members were asked to submit their changes to the Committee Secretary for inclusion in the final draft. The adoption of the remaining reports was also postponed.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) sent a large delegation to observe proceedings. The officials included Mr Chris Leukes (Director: Legal Services), Mr Bobby Soobrayan (Director-General), Mr Paseka Njobe (Director in the Director Generals’ Office) and Ms Vivienne Carelse (Deputy-Director General). Mr Alan Small from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisers was also present at the meeting.
Final Proposed Amendments
Mr Leukes presented a summary of the amendments to Clauses 7, 19 and 20.
Clause 7: Section 9 of the South African Schools Act 84, 1996. The MEC was given the authority to ensure that a suitable sanction was imposed on the learner after appeal was made to the MEC ‘within 14 days’.
Clause 19: Section 5 of the South African Council for Educators Act, 2000. This was amended to read (iv) must manage the systems for the promotion of continuing professional development of all educators. The wording ‘within available resources’ was omitted.
Clause 20: Section 19 of the South African Council for Educators Act, 2000. The amendment to Clause 19 led to the insertion of the words ‘money appropriated by Parliament’ for the purpose of dedicated voted funds to manage the continual professional teacher development system.
The Long Title and Memorandum on the Objects had been amended to reflect the amendments made in the Bill.
Formal Consideration and Vote on Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B36D-2010]
The Chairperson asked Members if they were in favour of adopting the Bill.
All Members present were in favour of adoption of the Bill. The Chairperson read out the Motion of Desirability. Mr J Skosana (ANC) moved to adopt the Bill and was seconded by Mr W James (DA).
Report on the progress made by the DBE towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The Chairperson noted that as per instruction from the Speaker, the basic education sector was responsible for MDGs 2 and 3. To date, the Committee had not engaged with NGOs or stakeholders on this matter. However, there had been substantial engagement with NGOs and stakeholders concerning Access to Quality Education. The report provided an overview on the Committee’s interaction with the DBE and what had emerged during the stakeholder hearings. There were certain definite processes that were yet to take place and once all the reports were coordinated and legislation was applied, the Committee would meet with the relevant stakeholders.
Mr James felt that on page 1, in the paragraph on ‘MDGs in general’, the word ‘domesticate’ should not refer to policy. ‘Some educators had been domesticated into the current priority agenda’.
Mr James said that while the document as a whole reflected goals relating to access to education and the extent to which gender equity had been realised, there was nothing in the report on quality education except for reference to the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds, where percentages appeared inflated and did not actually give the literacy rate measure used to give the index. He suggested that the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results on numeracy and literacy would better reflect what was achieved by DBE.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) said that although the document stated that the focus was not only on access to education but more on quality of education and this was reflected in recommendations - ‘improve quality and functionality of education if the goal of access to education is to be significant’, the quality of education aspect could be emphasized more seriously. He suggested that the wording ‘access, with a view to quality education’ would better reflect the goal.
Ms N Gina (ANC) said that the report should include more detail on the figures which explained the progress and shortfalls and status of access to and quality of education in the country to more substantially reflect the MDG report from the Committee.
Mr K Dikgobo (Alt, AZAPO) said that recommendations of any report were usually a response to a weakness identified in a report. If a recommendation referred to quality, but there was no reflection of quality in the body of the report, then the recommendation existed in a vacuum. He suggested that the report should include what had been done around issues of access and quality.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) suggested that the word ‘intensify’ should be qualified on page 5, bullet 2. In accepting the report, full understanding of how the interventions would be intensified should be understood.
The Chairperson said that the report would be withdrawn and amended and re-scheduled for the following week to be passed without amendments. Members could add their concerns to the report and submit them to the Committee Secretary, Mr Llewellyn Brown, by 12 pm on Thursday.
The Chairperson asked Members if they had read through the report which was submitted to Members the previous week.
The response was that only two Members had read the report. The majority of Members had not had time to read the report.
Mr Makhubele suggested that an efficient system acknowledges that the report was received on time. There was a request for additional time to be granted to Members.
The Chairperson ruled that the report could not be endorsed before Members had read it. Thus, it would be considered for adoption at the meeting the following week. The Committee Strategic Plan Report; the Visit to Hazeldene Primary School (Western Cape) Report; and the two outstanding Minutes reports (10 and 16 August 2011) would also be deferred for adoption by the Committee the following week. She asked Members to deliberate on the reports and any concerns should be addressed to the Committee Secretary by Thursday.
The meeting was adjourned.
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