The Departments of Basic Education (DBE), Higher Education and Training (DHET), and Science and Technology (DST) briefed the Committee on their plans to address and support the participation and performance of learners and students throughout the education system in maths and science.
The DBE focused its presentation on the Dinaledi Schools Project, an initiative that provided focused support to selected high schools in maths and science, giving support to both learners and educators. There were four focus areas: learners, teachers, development of the learning environment, and teacher education and development. Private and public funding were sought for this Project. In 2009, the Dinaledi schools contributed 23% of learners passing with 50% and above. The “Adopt-A-School” programme also aimed to develop a framework through which private partners could assist the Department, although it was added that other less formal assistance may also be provided by other bodies. Standard Bank had adopted 114 Dinaledi schools and Department of Science and Technology had adopted 18 Dinaledi schools. An analysis was done of these schools’ performance and they were categorised so that targeted interventions could be done. The World Bank’s study showed that the Dinaledi Schools Project had yielded noticeable enrolment and performance results in physical science, but that better results could have been achieved by redirecting some resources. A conditional grant of R70 million was awarded for 2011/12, with allocations of R100 million for 2012/213, and R105 million for 2013/2014, to promote maths and science teaching. The DBE had also developed an “Action Plan 2014” to improve results generally by 2025. The Curriculum was being improved so teachers knew what content to teach, and when to teach it, and the integration across subject areas of maths and science elements was taken into account.
DHET said that this Department had not looked specifically at Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) or Further Education and Training (FET) policies, although it was clear that these also did have a role to play in terms of science and technology. There had been 4.4% increase in total enrolments, and a 6.1% increase in graduates, in the science, engineering and technology programmes in the system, between 2004 and 2011, mainly due to investment by government into these programmes. The targets and success rates must be improved further, through improvements in quality of teaching and learning. Teaching development grants were given to universities who had not been successful enough, whilst foundation provisioning was focused on support for students in the system. Two new universities were to be established, in
The DST’s presentation was shortened, due to time constraints, but noted the Youth in Science Strategy and efforts to cooperate with the Departments of Education.
Members raised concern that the DBE had not explained the challenges faced by schools in the Dinaledi Project, and said more clarity was needed on the conditions under which learners and teachers were experiencing education. Safety at schools was also identified as an important issue. The Members also sought clarity on the names of specific schools in the project as well as the areas where they were located. They asked if schools were connected to broadband. Members asked the DHET to clarify the categorisation of “African” in its statistics, enquiring both into other racial groups and the percentage of South Africans as opposed to foreigners. Members requested the DST to provide more specific information on the impact of the YiSS on participation of learners in maths and science. They agreed that urgent interventions would be needed if all the targets were to be met.
Mathematics and Science interventions in education
Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefing
An apology was noted from the Director-General and the Minister, who were not able to attend the meeting.
Mr Sifiso Sibiya, Project Manager: Dinaledi Schools Project, Department of Basic Education, noted that this project had started in 2001, and was a strategy to improve the teaching and learning of maths and science in Grade 12. In 2005 the strategy was reaffirmed, and the Department set targets to pass 50 000 learners in Maths and Science at matric in the years 2007 and 2008. The Dinaledi Project (the Project) became a pilot project in the broader strategy. The Project’s objective was to set performance targets in all schools and to have a qualified and competent teacher in every classroom.
It was noted at this point that Mr Sibiya was standing in for the person who was due to make the presentation, and who had fallen ill at the last minute. He had made slight changes to the presentation. There were slight differences between what he was saying and the slides before Members.
Mr Sibiya noted that the intention of the Project was to build partnerships with relevant stakeholders and to introduce information communication technology (ICT) in all schools. He noted that although there were initially 500 Dinaledi schools, over the years some of these schools were dropped. The specific objective of Dinaledi schools was to raise the performance and participation of disadvantaged learners in Maths and Science. The project was designed to provide a cost-effective way of channelling resources in the context of competing priorities.
The Project was a short-term approach to provide learning and teaching facilities to selected schools with potential. The schools were to be used as reference schools to inform the broader strategy of the Department to improve performance and participation of learners in maths and science. In 2010, Dinaledi schools contributed 18% to the national pass rate in maths and science, and 32% of those passing with above 50%. In 2009, the Dinaledi schools contributed 23% of learners passing with 50% and above.
In 2009, 398 mathematics teachers and 370 physical science teachers were trained. Teachers were trained on content knowledge. Irish donor funding was used. One of the partners was the Zenex Foundation, who had conducted a short survey. One of their findings was that information needed to integrate maths, science and language interventions in a holistic manner.
One of the sub-projects within the Dinaledi Project was called “Adopt-a School”, where a framework was developed through which private partners could assist the Department, stating how schools could be adopted, and how the resources could be mobilised. The Department co-ordinated the private sector support to Dinaledi schools for distribution of resources, to support the promotion of quality teaching and learning, primarily in maths and science. However, he noted that there may also be other partners assisting schools at a local level on a less formal basis, of whom the Department was not aware. Those highlighted in the presentation were the ones known at national level. The biggest partner thus far was Standard Bank, who adopted 114 Dinaledi schools. Standard Bank had contracted Deloitte & Touche to conduct a needs analysis in each of the 114 schools, and was resourcing the schools, based on this study. The Department of Science and Technology had adopted 18 Dinaledi schools. Some partners were active, some were passive. It depended on the nature of the relationship between the province and the partner.
An annual analysis was done of Dinaledi schools’ performance. Schools were then categorised in terms of levels of performance, after which a monitoring strategy was developed to track whether these schools achieved the desired results.
The World Bank had conducted an independent impact evaluation study. The study showed that the Dinaledi Schools Project had yielded noticeable enrolment and performance results in physical science. These results were seen in
In response to a proposal submitted to the National Treasury in 2008, the Project was awarded R70 million for the 2011/2012 financial year, R100 million for 2012/213, and R105 million for 2013/2014 to further improve the participation performance of learners in maths and science. The proposal was in line with the national strategy for maths and science education. The purpose of the conditional grant was to promote maths and science teaching and learning, in line with the Action Plan 2014. The funds were distributed according to the number of schools per province.
Mr David Sekao, Deputy Director: Curriculum, Department of Basic Education, noted that, generally speaking, the underperformance in science and maths in the country was not only a problem located in Further Education and Training (FET). Learners who attended the FET tended to be those who had achieved lower grades. The DBE had developed “Action Plan 2014”, aiming for results in 2025, to guide the schooling sector to improve quality outputs. This Action Plan identified a number of output goals. The majority of the goals focused on maths and science, not only at FET level but also at General Education and Training (GET) level. A draft improvement plan for maths and science had been developed, with four domains to be improved to support performance in maths and science. He noted that when learners graduated from GET to FET, they had to possess the required skills to pass maths and science at higher grades.
The Department was in the process of ‘repackaging’ the Curriculum, commonly known as Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). The aim was to provide more specificity on content for teachers, so that they knew what to teach, and at what stage to teach it. The physical science curriculum overload at Grade 10-12 had been addressed through the current CAPS process. He stressed that assessment was an integral part of teaching and learning in the curriculum.
Mr Sekao emphasised that the primary aim of the draft improvement strategy was to make sure that the focus was not only on FET, but throughout the schooling system, from Grade 1 to Grade 12. He also stated that the strategy, although it was focusing on maths and science for now, would eventually be an integrated strategy, since some subjects such as Economic Management Science (EMS), or Social Studies, incorporated elements of maths and science.
It was identified that the learning domain focused primarily on the learner, the teaching domain focused primarily on the teacher, and then on the content and the learning environment. All four domains had to be properly orchestrated, so that, for instance, there was not a focus on teachers understanding content, without also recognising that some learners experienced learning barriers. It must also be remembered that there was a shortage of resources, and a need to grow teachers.
Mr Sekao quoted Albert Einstein, who said “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be”. The Department had to know exactly what the problem was, so that interventions could be focused and informed by that, and be able to effect change that would ensure that the Action Plan 2014 goals were reached.
The Chairperson welcomed the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Advocate Ismail Malale (ANC), who had now been able to join the meeting after another engagement.
Higher Education and University Education support for maths and science
Dr Diane Parker, Acting Deputy Director General: University Academic Planning and Management Support, Department of Higher Education and Training, noted that the focus of her presentation would be on higher education (HE) and university education, and noted that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had not looked specifically at Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) or Further Education and Training (FET) policies, although it was clear that these also did have a role to play in terms of science and technology.
Dr Engela Van Staden, Acting Chief Director: University Academic Planning and Management Support, DHET, stated that the four major groups of fields of study considered were Science, Engineering and Technology, Business and Management Education, and Humanities studies. She explained the first few slides in the presentation (see attached document).
It was emphasised that the actual change in “shape of study”, showed a 4.4% increase in total enrolments and a 6.1% increase in graduates, in the science, engineering and technology programmes in the system, between 2004 and 2011. Enrolments increased from 160 000 in 2004, to over 250 000 in 2010. A significant reason was the investment made by government into science, engineering and technology programmes. The DHET was holding discussion to try to improve targets, and, more significantly, success rates in the programmes, which would include how to improve the quality of teaching and learning within the institutions, and work with the Teaching and Learning Strategy Group, to improve success.
Dr Parker noted that teaching development grants were given to universities who had not been successful enough. Foundation provisioning was specifically focused on providing support for students in the system, in both extended degree programmes and in academic development programmes. The DHET was also looking at strategic partnerships, to improve the enrolment and graduation of students in these areas. It was also expanding the university system with the introduction of two new universities in the
She also emphasised that there had been a number of strategic projects jointly with DBE and the unions, as well as other groups, to develop an integrated strategic planning framework for teacher education development, including how to reduce the number of the types of different teachers required. The Foundation Phase teacher education programme aimed to increase the number of institutions offering Foundation Phase teacher education, from 13 in 2008, to 20 in 2014. However, that effort was also trying to strengthen maths and language within the system, and ensure that sufficient Foundation Phase teachers could teach in various African languages.
Department of Science and Technology presentation
Mr Daniel Adams, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Science and Technology, acknowledged the need for his Department (DST) to cooperate with the Departments of Education to contribute to the objectives set by government. He said this presentation would focus on the Youth into Science Strategy (YiSS), which was one of the many initiatives used to support the Departments of Education.
Ms Phetiwe Matutu, Chief Director: Human Capital, DST, noted that she would only briefly summarise the main points in the slide presentation, because of shortage of time. She then tabled the attached presentation.
Ms H Line (ANC) felt that the DBE’s presentation was neither impressive nor informative, and had not outlined any of the real challenges. She said that it was not clear what areas were difficult, especially in the Dinaledi schools.
Ms Line said that although there was an indication of the number of Dinaledi schools in provinces was given, no names of schools or areas were provided, and this information would have been important. The same was true of the donor-supported schools, where only numbers, but not location, was given. The progress in those schools had not been stated.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked about the 500 schools already existing, and asked if they were high schools.
Ms Mocumi asked why certain schools were dropped from the programme, and what the Department’s intervention had been in this regard. She wondered if there was insufficient support for those schools, and stressed that the Department should have ensured that the schools were supported so that they did not drop out of the Project. She also questioned why, despite the information that some had fallen out, an increase in the number of schools was shown from year to year.
A COPE Member also noted that the DBE’s presentation did not explain the challenges faced by schools. Another important issue not covered was that of safety in schools, although lack of safety would always disturb other programmes being done by the schools.
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked how many of the Dinaledi schools were supported by private enterprise and private individuals, and whether this support was mainly financial or took the form of other inputs.
Ms Shinn asked when the draft Action Plan 2014 started and when the DBE envisioned it would be implemented and finalised. She asked how much energy was being put into that plan.
Ms Shinn also raised the issue of teacher buy-in to the DBE’s plans and said that part of the problem was that many teachers were not competent in all subjects. She also raised the question of teacher discipline and professionalism, and asked if there would be trade union buy-in to the program.
Ms Shinn was also particularly interested in whether the Dinaledi schools were connected to a broadband network.
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) requested that the presentation be distributed to the Members in hard copy.
Ms Dunjwa thought that the DBE needed to commended, but noted that there were challenges in education throughout. She asked who was monitoring the identification of the Dinaledi schools.
Ms Dunjwa asked what was being done to try to ensure proper empowerment of children whose parents, not being schooled themselves, were unable to assist their children with homework. She thought that DBE, DHET and DST all needed to make efforts to improve the ABET programme to assist parents. She also added that the social conditions of educators and learners should also be taken into account. She proposed that within one month’s time the DBE, DHE and DST should set up a joint committee to report on improvements on the areas that were identified.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) stated that often the schools identified were those that were already performing well. It was important to identify schools that were performing poorly, and then be able to set targets for those schools, so that the DBE could track their progress and performance against targets. He thought that schools should be categorised and the DBE should be clear on whether improvements in any school were of its ‘own’ creation.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) stated that the DoE and government were doing very well in terms of maths and science education. However, he thought more had to be said about the resources needed to address challenges faced by various schools, whether they had an impact, and whether delivery was equal across the schools.
Mr Skosana also asked whether the monitoring mechanism was the same in all provinces. He also wanted to know the link of the Project from national level to the provinces, and how information was disseminated.
Mr Skosana also asked how productive were the educators who had already been given skills to deliver the Dinaledi Project.
Mr D Smiles (DA) noted that there was a very serious problem with regard to maths and science in
Mr Smiles felt that the first presentation by the DBE was not impressive, and stated that if matters were not improved at the lowest level, then there would be no improvement at higher levels. The DBE had a problem in the quality and quantity of teachers. He questioned whether there were enough teachers, and also asked if the DBE knew precisely how many teachers were needed for the Dinaledi Project, and whether there were enough teachers who were willing to teach maths. Learners would not benefit if there was not proper teaching.
Mr Smiles, without wishing to pre-empt what the DHET had presented, proposed that urgent and serious action was needed in both basic and higher education. There needed to be a strong input in the Foundation Phase and it was also vital to have strong input at Grade 12, and even for the current Grade 11s, shortly to move up to Grade 12, so that they would be accepted at institutions of higher education.
Ms N Gina (ANC) asked whether the schools supported by donors were additional to the 500 schools that were part of the Dinaledi Project, and she asked what difference there was in impact between those privately supported schools, and the others.
Ms Gina suggested that Dinaledi primary schools must be developed, as feeders to the high schools.
Ms Gina noted that many workshops on teacher development had been conducted. However, she asked what more was being done to make sure that more teachers were attracted to teach maths and science, including provision of bursaries.
Ms Gina asked if timeframes were attached to the Project, and what its limitations might be.
Response of DBE
Mr Granville Whittle, Chief Director: Office of the Director-General, DBE, noted that the Dinaledi schools faced the same kinds of challenges that other schools throughout South Africa faced, such as poorly trained teachers, teachers who lacked content knowledge, learners from very poor areas, poor infrastructure, lack of textbooks and lack of learning and teaching support materials. The aim was that the 500 selected Dinaledi schools were schools in disadvantaged areas, attended by poor and black learners, who traditionally struggled with maths and science. The Project provided additional resources to support those schools and turn around their performance. The schools were all high schools. He noted that Mr Sibiya could provide the names of schools and areas to the Committee.
Mr Whittle stated that selection of Dinaledi schools was done in provinces and districts. However, as schools of excellence were being created in communities, sometimes the wrong schools were identified. The Project had started in 102 schools and had, over the years, grown to 500, although over those years some of the original schools had also fallen out. In some years, Grade 12 learners did not choose to do maths or science, which meant that the programme closed in those schools, but other factors were also involved. Mr Sibiya could give an analysis of the fall-out over the years, giving the reasons for each school having dropped out. He also indicated that, for instance, in
Mr Whittle conceded that many teachers in Grade 12 might not be trained maths or physics teachers and may struggle with the content themselves.
Mr Whittle acknowledged that safety was a major concern in many schools.
Mr Whittle answered the questions on connectivity by noting that the DBE, for the first time, had in 2011 received a conditional grant for Dinaledi. R70 million had been earmarked, some of which would go to infrastructural improvement, and this would enable connectivity in these schools. It was hoped that each of the schools could have a dedicated computer centre with full connectivity.
Ms Shinn clarified that she had asked specifically about schools’ connectivity to the broadband network, not about computers in schools.
Mr Whittle stated that he did not think there was such connectivity in all schools, but did not have specifics. He undertook to provide further information to the Committee on this point.
Mr Whittle clarified that the Action Plan 2014 was not specifically a maths and science strategy, but was rather a broader plan to co-ordinate education interventions from a national level, but that provinces must also buy into. All provinces actively supported the Action Plan and had signed the Minister’s delivery agreement in which this Action Plan was set out. Many district offices, however, were not clear on their role, nor what they had to do to support schools (including Dinaledi schools). It was hoped that part of the conditional grant would target support to schools more effectively.
Mr Whittle agreed that it would be vital to have a social compact in education between all stakeholders, including business, the private sector, and the teachers’ unions. Some years back, the former Department of Education had signed agreements with the teachers’ unions, committing them to a set of “non-negotiables” in education, which included a commitment by teachers to be in class, on time, in school, and in teaching. The unions were supportive in this regard. The Department was working hard to sustain that compact.
Mr Whittle further commented that the DBE hoped to identify poorly-performing schools, as well as those who had better performance in maths and science. The DBE would provide an indication of the criteria utilised to identify the Dinaledi schools. However, he did note that the schools seemed to be more stable, with fewer drop-outs from the Project. Despite this,
Mr Whittle noted that maths performance hovered around 50% at the moment, and not 17% as suggested.
Ms Malgas stated that, in the past, maths and science teaching had not been offered in black schools. She asked that in its next presentation, DBE should explain the acronyms, and should also provide the disaggregated data on schools, including the full-service schools, and schools of inclusive education, where disabled learners also attended. She also thought it would be important to address the failure rates in Dinaledi schools. There was a plan of action in place for ordinary public schools. Ms Malgas asked what the criteria was, and the progress made thus far. She thanked the Department for its report.
The Chairperson stated that he did not think it would be beneficial to have another meeting. However, he did suggest that a full-day workshop was needed, involving all Committees, where presentations could be made by experts. The departments were expected to workshop themselves and present their achievements, but where policy intervention was needed, the Committee needed to identify expert presenters from the various departments.
The Chairperson agreed that it was necessary to hear about the Dinaledi schools that were under-performing.
The Chairperson said that the Department of Science and Technology in
The Chairperson noted that students in rural areas were often also interested in pursuing maths and science, but, because of their environment, did not have adequate resources or teachers able to teach those subjects. Many teachers in rural areas had themselves only completed up to Grade 12 in maths and science, and teacher training in these subjects was needed
The Chairperson noted that in Sweden, industries informed the Department of Education what it would require in future, and the students were prepared in those skills, via a multi-stakeholder effort to produce what the country most needed.
Ms Dunjwa suggested that it would be equally important for the workshop to consider the impact of class, as well as race and gender.
Dr Van Staden stated that it would be very difficult to include class as a category, as the data system did not define class. The DHE would have to look into a methodology to try and define class as a category.
The COPE Member asked about whether there was a specific timeframe for the establishment of a university in the
Dr van Staden indicated that the
Mr C Moni (ANC) noted that only “African” was listed as a separate category and asked if there were statistics also in respect of the other races.
Dr van Staden confirmed that comparisons with other races were available. The DHET felt that one of its priorities was the ‘African race’. She stated that the DHE could provide information on other races for the proposed workshop.
Ms Shinn asked what the drop-out rate was, whether it was diminishing, and why students dropped out.
Dr van Staden said that studies on drop-out rates were being conducted. These differed according to the courses followed. There was a drop-out rate for both national diplomas and the four-year bachelor’s degrees. This also differed between disciplines. Data was being collated. Dr Van Staden noted that the highest drop-out rate was related to finance. Some students also changed their field of study. Academic performance was another factor.
Mr Moni asked what informed the increase in enrolments in Animal Sciences from 3 100 to 3 900.
Dr van Staden said that the DHET had consulted all 23 institutions on which areas they could grow and what they needed to grow. The institutions had indicated what their growth targets would be and how they would achieve them. This was the reason for the specific increase in this sector.
Ms Shinn asked for clarity on the slide in the DHET presentation, giving an enrolment figure, for 2008, of 57 000, with a graduate figure of 8 000. She asked whether the enrolment figures ran across the years.
Dr Van Staden confirmed that the enrolment covered the whole period.
Ms Mocumi referred to slide 5 and 6 of the DHET’s presentation, regarding the enrolment and graduates related to race. She wanted to know what percentage of the students were local students, and asked what percentage of South Africans benefited from the programmes.
Dr van Staden noted that overall, the international component of African students was 7.1% (about 80,000 students) of the total of 837 000 students. About 5% of those students were from the SADC region. 0.4% were students from the
Ms Mocumi also noted that slide number 2 set out no new targets for 2010/11, but in terms engineering, science and technology, the target remained the same. She wanted to know why no increase was planned for the following year.
Mr Makhubele noted that
Mr Makhubele noted that the DST’s presentation had not mentioned the overall impact of the YiSS.
Ms Malgas stated that there were serious problems at the beginning of this year in terms of intake at universities. She asked whether the DHET was ready for the new year. She also asked about laboratories available to students, and requested a breakdown. She asked whether the mobile laboratories visited rural areas.
Dr van Staden added that the DHET was providing access through the foundation provisioning to students for educational opportunities. Institutions were providing an indication of how many students could be taken in for 2012. The DHET was planning to increase the first time entries by an additional 4 000 (which would represent growth of 2.8%). Universities needed to plan for the numbers that they were able to take. Dr Parker added that there was an advocacy campaign running on radio at the moment, talking about opportunities and encouraging students who had an interest in higher education to apply now. One of the major problems experienced in this year was the number of people who, without having made prior application, decided to try to enter higher education for the first time, when there were no places for them. The radio campaign was educating youth around the need to apply early, was stressing that there were limited spaces in universities, and citing the alternatives, particularly encouraging youth to attend FET colleges and other types of educational institutions if they were unable to access universities. She emphasised that this was not a guarantee that there would not be long queues at universities. She added that the FET colleges should be marketed as a viable option, and the post-school system needed to be expanded.
The Chairperson also raised the issue of the interaction, at provincial level, between the DST, DBE and DHET. Although they were national entities, they also needed to have visibility at provincial level. These kinds of issues could be brainstormed at a workshop, with the assistance of experts.
Dr van Staden responded that individual universities did interact with their provinces. However, the DHET was also planning to open regional offices so that the DHET would have a footprint in each of the provinces to create a space where students could receive career advice, and where the DHET could work with various institutions across the schooling system.
The Chairperson noted an analysis from the Department of Management at the
Ms Matutu, Department of Science and Technology, noted that the level of interest of enrolment of learners in maths and science, and also the increase in enrolments in related degrees, could be measured, and she said that in fact the growth was “remarkable”. The DST believed that it was contributing to that increase through its campaigns.
She also explained that the DST conducted individual monitoring of programmes. The DST, for example, run the Thuthuka Development Champs. After a five-year evaluation the throughput had increased by 60%. The DST had also partnered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), but these ties wee severed when it was found that only about half of those students went on to do science and technology. The DST had found new partners. It had just completed ten years of the National Science Week, and was doing a ten year review of the event.
She added that there were a significant number of science centres in rural areas. There was a science centre at both the University of Fort Hare and
She finally confirmed that the DBE consistently invited the DST to its meetings or workshops. The DST also did communicate with the DBE in terms of its programmes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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