Department of Basic Education Annual Report 2010/11

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

01 November 2011
Chairperson: Mr D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary


The Department of Basic Education briefed the Committee on significant events and achievements as well as a breakdown on the financials for 2010/11.

Members engaged with the Department on a number of issues such as progress on the HIV/AIDS Strategy and whether educators were qualified to implement the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). Given the problem with unemployment in SA, questions were asked about the under spending on grants for technical secondary schools. Other concerns were why dropout rates were so high in the higher grades, why were mud schools and multi-grade classes still in existence, what were the Department’s plans on special needs learners including those using Braille and sign language. Members asked about progress in addressing education issues in the Eastern Cape, why the Department had such a high vacancy rate and why the figures for sick leave amongst officials were so high.

The Committee expressed disappointment that neither the Minister, Deputy Minister nor the Director General was present even though formal apologies had been forwarded to the Committee. Members even considered cancelling the briefing had it not been for the huge expense incurred by the Department in attending the meeting which was represented by quite a number of officials. The briefing went ahead on the condition that the Minister was informed of how the Committee felt.

Meeting report

Ms Rantho expressed her disappointment that neither the Minister, Deputy Minister nor the Director General was present at the meeting. Apologies had however been forwarded to the Committee. Since 2009 the Minister had never attended a meeting by the Committee. She asked members how they felt about the matter and whether the briefing should proceed.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng), Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo), Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) and Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) shared the sentiments expressed by Ms Rantho but nevertheless felt that the briefing should go ahead as great expense had been incurred by the Department to attend the meeting.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) fully understood that money was spent by the Department to attend the meeting but nevertheless felt that the Committee should not go ahead with the briefing. A statement should be made by the Committee that it would not be taken for granted by top management of Basic Education.

Given that the majority of members felt the briefing should go ahead, it did.

Mr Paddy Padayachee Acting Director General Department of Basic Education stated that he would communicate the sentiments of the Committee to the Minister.

Department of Basic Education Annual Report 2010/11
The Department of Basic Education briefed the Committee on its Annual Report 2010/11. The delegation in attendance comprised of amongst others Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director General, Dr Faith Kumalo, Chief Director: Health in Education, Ms Dzunisani Ndhambi, Acting Director, Dr Francis Nzama, Chief Director: Education Human Resource Development, Mr Themba Kojana, Acting Deputy Director General: Social Inclusion and Mobilisation, Mr Anton Schoeman, Acting Director General: Administration, Mr Gerrit Coetzee, Director: Strategic Planning, Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director General: Strategic Planning and Reporting, Ms Ntsetse Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, Ms Simone Geyer, Chief Director: Education Human Resource Management and Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum.

Mr Padayachee said the Department’s statutory role was firstly to formulate policy, norms and standards and secondly to monitor and evaluate policy implementation and impact. Based on system performance, it became clear that the Department needed to perform a more active steering role as well as a more direct role in supporting implementation. In 2010/11 the Department introduced an Action Plan to 2014. It was the first ever Sector Plan aimed at providing more robust mechanisms for steering the system. The Action Plan sets out clear measurable and time-bound targets for the whole sector. He noted that 78% of 5 year olds attended education institutions (EI) at 2009 as compared to 39% in 2002; 99% of 7-15 year olds attended an EI; 93% of 16 year olds attended an EI; 85% of 17 year olds attended an EI and 72% of 18 year olds attended an EI but 28% did not (of those that did not attend 27% have completed Grade 12). Over 8000 ordinary public schools had average class sizes above the norm of 40. In 2008 there were 50 000 pregnant learners, learner mortality in 2008 was 10 600, 3 million learners were beneficiaries of social grants and income from public school fees amounted to R8 billion. The dropout rate increased the higher the grade. There was a nominal increase in funding from 2001/2 - 2009/10 but it had not kept up with rising inflation.

The second phase of the briefing entailed three parts. Part 1 dealt with background on organisational and budgetary contexts, Part 2 with programme performance in terms of the Department executing its 2010/11 Operational Plan, and Part 3 detailed the Department’s Annual Financial Statements. Ms Carelse and Mr Coetzee presented the first two parts. The functions and the budget of the Department of Education were split between the newly established Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training from 1 April 2010. There were outstanding balances on the books of the Department of Education amounting to R119, 248m. The portion applicable to the Department would be transferred to its books during the 2011/12 financial year. The progress of the Department was illustrated by way of highlighting significant events and achievements. The Department conducted a Rapid Assessment and Remediation Intervention in under-performing schools. Despite all the challenges caused by strikes etc, the 2010 National Senior Certificate examinations had proceeded well and the pass rate improved substantially from 60.6% in 2009 to 67.8 % in 2010. The Department had also developed two important support tools to improve school management and governance. The first was the School Governing Body Support Tool which helped school governing bodies to monitor their performance and also enabled provincial departments to identify where school governing bodies required assistance. The second tool was the Annual Academic Performance Reporting Template which would assist schools in compilation of annual academic reports. The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) team provided management advice and support to 7 160 schools in 2010/11. At the beginning of 2011, 1 488 school principals were enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) course in an effort to strengthen school management capacity. Interest in teaching had improved significantly as reflected in the number of applications for the Funza Lushaka Bursary. Over 30 000 applications had been received. The National School Nutrition Programme provided quality nutritious meals to 8 125 695m learners in 20 250 Quintile 1-3 primary and Quintile 1-2 secondary schools. The Department had published the Draft Integrated Strategy on HIV/AIDS 2012-2016 for public comment.

Ms Ntsetsa presented the Annual Financial Statements to the Committee. She provided a breakdown of the  2010/11 budget allocation versus expenditure for each programme of the Department. The total allocation was R6 171 999bn and expenditure was R5 515 077bn, which was 89.4% of th budget. She also provided explanations for why each of the programmes had under spent. The Auditor-General (AG) had granted the Department an unqualified audit opinion. Matters raised by the AG were that there was inadequate programme performance information, the continued use of the now defunct Department of Education processes and procedures and the under resourcing of the internal audit unit.

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) was pleased that the 2011 matric exams had started without incidents having been reported thus far. She referred to the Framework for the Backlog Grant and the Infrastructure Grant and asked it was being implemented. How was the Rapid Assessment
and Remediation Intervention (RARI) programme doing? Referring to the Draft HIV/AIDS Strategy she asked what was in place to assist learners. If the Department of Health was to provide health services to schools, for example, nurses at schools, how far was discussions.

Mr Padayachee stated that the Department would try its best to answer all questions. If any questions were unintentionally not answered, the answer would be forwarded to the Committee in writing.

Dr Kumalo noted that the Departments of Education and Health were developing an integrated health school programme. The challenge was the capacity of the health system to implement. A better alternative was to rather develop a health team for schools. Work by the Department was ongoing and the plan was on track.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) pointed out that the dropout rate for Grades 9 and 10 was increasing. The dropout rates for Grades 11 and 12 were even worse. What mechanism was the Department putting in place to assist these learners? She asked if the Department had links with the Department of Higher Education in order for collaboration to take place. The Department had developed a retention strategy for rural areas but what about dropouts not in rural areas? On the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign, what challenges were there? She asked what progress was made on the grant for college recapitalisation. On the irregular expenditure of R2.5m by the Education Labour Council, what measures were being put in place to prevent it? She gave an example of a region where mud schools were replaced by metal containers but there were still not any toilets and running water provided to those learners. What mechanisms were in place to check on whether minimum standards were being met?

Mr Kojana spoke to the Department’s work on social responsibility. Work had begun at provincial level by involving provincial heads and Members of Executive Councils (MECs). Structures in all provinces came on board. In July 2011 advocacy work was done on “quintalcy”. The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) Accord had been signed. The idea was to ensure that schooling was correct in order for people to get jobs. The Department had to adopt poorly performing schools. A plan had to be developed for them. There also had to be protocol for engagement. The Department did have an internal document on how to adopt poorly performing schools. The NEDLAC Accord had been launched in October 2011 and there was a rollout plan to launch it in all provinces.

Ms Geyer noted that the irregular expenditure was a unique occurrence and was as a result of the split in the Department of Education into the two separate departments of the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education. When Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges moved to the Department of Higher Education there had been 6000 lecturers on the Department’s books. However when an audit was done it was found that there were more lecturers on the colleges’ books. Hence more funding was required and a virement of funds was done. A risk management mechanism had been put in place.

Ms Ntsetsa noted that on recapitalisation for the current financial year, National Treasury has approved rollovers.

Mr Padayachee stated that tenders had gone out for 50 schools to be completed in areas where mud schools were used. Issues of water and electricity would also be addressed. In total over the next three years 395 schools would be built.

Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) referred to the Education Labour Council having to settle disputes and asked why there were so many strikes? On improving curriculum reticulation, were educators qualified to implement the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)? She referred to the employment and vacancy rate of 7.41% and asked why it was so high. There were so many qualified persons who were unemployed that could have filled the vacant posts.

Ms Geyer responded that there were not that many strikes, there were only three. She stated that in 2010 the public service wage negotiations affected everyone. The education unions had joined the other public service unions in the strike action. At the end of the strike action, only a single term agreement had been concluded, a three to five year agreement would have been better.

Mr Schoeman explained that when the Department of Education was split into two, no new staff could be hired. The split of staff was 52% to Basic Education and 48% to Higher Education. Hence the vacancies. The Department of Basic Education had received R80m from National Treasury to fill vacant posts.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) referred to the irregular expenditure of the Department and noted that the Auditor-General had stated that the reason for it was because there was non compliance with supply chain processes. Why was there non compliance and what action had been taken against those officials who had been responsible. He referred to the audit report on pages 184-193 of the Annual Report and referred to the additional information which the Auditor-General had stated he could not express an opinion on. Where did the information belong? The Auditor-General had also noted that the internal audit unit of the Department was not funded to perform its functions.

Mr Schoeman noted that the irregular expenditure by the Department was nobody’s fault. It was a project that fell under the old Department of Education. The Department had sent out tenders to manage a project. A service provider was appointed to manage the project. There was nothing wrong with the tender procedure. The Auditor-General said the service provider had not followed government processes and a VAT Certificate by a sub service provider had not been valid at the time. The bottom line was that the Auditor General had declared the entire project unauthorised. The matter was however being addressed. With the split of the Department of Education, the internal audit committee had also been split into two. There was no funding to appoint additional persons at the time. Funds had consequently been allocated to appoint additional persons to the internal audit unit.

Ms Ntsetsa stated that the Department had to complete annexures with additional information. It was true that the Auditor-General had not commented on them.

Mr Mashamaite pointed out that the Auditor-General had stated that the internal audit unit was not functioning because it was not properly resourced.

Mr Schoeman conceded that the unit had not been staffed properly.

Mr S Plaaitjie (COPE, North West) referred to vacancies on the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) and asked why the Department allowed provinces to convert educators to do the IQMS. It was such an important instrument. Were there no norms and standards for under-performing schools? There should be norms and standards across all provinces. He asked why high school principals were taken to primary schools to be mentored. Why those principals were rather not placed in a management programme for principals? The Department was also silent on the issue of multi grade classes. These schools still existed and they were in a bad state. He stated that systemic evaluations had been in place and now there was the Annual National Assessments (ANA). Did ANA replace systemic evaluations?

Ms Geyer replied that there had been vacancies that had been filled by employing 79 people. The contracts had ended and the decision had to be taken to extend contracts of moderators. In the North West Province, Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (NSMP) persons were employed as IQMS persons. The Department’s moderators moderate the work of IQMS persons.

Dr Nzama responded that the Department did not encourage the practice of shifting principals from high schools to primary schools. The Department would take action where this had happened. A decision taken at a HEADCOM meeting was to assist under-performing principals at all schools. A modular approach would be used by way of the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) Centres. Modules would be recommended to principals in areas where they were lacking. A total of 1148 principals had enrolled for ACE in 2011. The Eastern Cape was the only province not involved at present but it would join in 2012. Inductions for new principals and deputy principals were also needed. Mentoring and coaching would be considered as well.

Dr Nzama noted that matric results used to be the barometer to measure the performance of high schools. ANA was the barometer to measure the health of primary schools.

Mr Mweli stated that the issue of multi-grade schools was being dealt with in terms of CAPS. Most multi-grade schools were in rural areas. There was collaboration with the Department of Higher Education.

Mr Padayachee stated that ANA was replacing systemic evaluations. Programmes were in place to assist scholars to take the test.

Mr M De Villiers (DA) noted that the Department had carried out results in different schools, with ANA would the service provider carry it out? He referred to the 2010 State of the Nation Address which spoke about 27 000 school assessments and asked for more information on it. It seemed that the Department’s International Relations Directorate had a shortage of staff, what was being done about it?

He also pointed out that Braille was only offered from Grades 1- 4 in English and Afrikaans. Why was it not offered in other official languages? Were there any plans to implement sign language as a subject in schools? He was concerned that in primary schools after Grade 4, 81.4% of learners were being taught in English. When was it going to change? He referred to the 2008 figures of 50 000 pregnant learners and asked what were the figures for 2009 and 2010 and what the Department doing about educating boys and girls about this. Reference was made to the leave and sick leave figures contained in the Annual Report and why some of the figures were so high. For example in senior management the sick leave figure was 58.25%. What was the Department doing about it?

Mr Mweli replied that Braille was available in other languages which included African languages. A project had also been started on sign language. A curriculum had been developed and it was to be offered as a subject in all types of schools. He referred to the promotion of other languages over English and noted he did not expect things to drastically change. For social cohesion it would be good for non African speakers to be exposed to African languages.

Mr Schoeman stated that there was a shortage of staff in the International Relations Directorate but posts would be filled. He referred to the sick leave issue and noted that a Health Risk Manager had been appointed.

Mr De Villiers asked whether the Human Resource Manager of the Department spoke to staff about the high sick leave figures.

Mr Kojana replied that it was difficult to provide precise pregnancy figures for 2009 and 2010. He noted that gender related barriers at schools had to be reduced. Life orientation needed to be strengthened. The Department was doing a CAPS review to train educators on the new curriculum. Social harassment guidelines were also distributed to learners.

Dr Kumalo added that pregnancy fitted in with the HIV/AIDS strategy. There was a comprehensive approach and there was a wholistic view. There was a new strategy to strengthen the work that was already being done. Currently there was a life skills education programme being implemented at all schools. It was funded by National Treasury by way of a conditional grant.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked why was there under spending on the recapitalisation grants for technical secondary schools, especially in the three most rural provinces. Children in rural areas need to be skilled. If the funds were not being spent what was the need for the schools. The Department should be promoting technical schools. She stated that a teacher had complained to her that they did not receive “good” textbooks which they had ordered from catalogues. The Districts decided which textbooks they received. The issue was about price. Publishers of textbooks also influence persons in charge of procurement. The issue was a recurring problem which the Department needed to address. On learners with special needs, she was glad that educators were being trained. In some areas if there was a child with special needs, the child did not attend school but stayed home. Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) sometimes step in and open special needs schools. The Department should step in and assist those NGOs. More special needs schools should be started by the Department. She referred to the audit disclaimer in the Eastern Cape and asked what was happening?

Mr Mweli stated that the Department was looking at strengthening technical schools. The solution was perhaps to reconsider the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC). The issue was being looked at. The Department had developed remedial measures. On technical high school grants, provinces did not plan well. On the issue of textbook catalogues the Department would be more wary of what was happening. There were ten catalogues at national level.

Mr Padayachee, referring to the Eastern Cape disclaimer, stated that the Minister had put a team in place to deal with the issue.

Ms Ranto asked what happened in the Eastern Cape after the Presidential visit. There had been a great deal of dismissals and suspensions and as a result there should be a shortage of staff. What was the Department doing about it? She asked why the Funza Lushaka Bursaries was not available in rural areas. It seemed to only be available in Cape Town. Principals were managers of schools. Shifting them from a high school to a primary school did not change their style of managing. How would they do better at primary schools? She also pointed out that schools for children with special needs were not functioning well in the Eastern Cape. They needed assistance. Reference was made to the Whole School Evaluation Programme - was being monitored? Were there institutions which offered training in foundation phase programmes?

Mr Mweli replied that it was difficult to manage concurrent functions between national and provinces. Special schools and inclusive education was a great concern to society. Compared to other countries SA had a great deal to do. In 2006 there was a strengthening of specials schools programme but the funding had come from the equitable share. The programme was making a difference even in the Eastern Cape.

The Department welcomed working with NGOs.

Ms Geyer stated that the Whole School Evaluation Programme was a new programme of the Department. The Whole School Evaluation Programme had merged with the IQMS Directorate. She noted that evaluation would take place in the provinces and it was happening at present. The
National Education, Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) Unit and the Whole School Evaluation Programme might be duplicating on some things.

Ms Ndhama stated that foundation phase programmes were available. There were two types. The first was a 1 year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course which was offered by 5 institutions. The second was a 4 year Bachelor of Education Degree which was offered by 15 institutions. She pointed out that persons who had received Funza Lushaka Bursaries had to serve in a public school for the same number of years that they were sponsored. Graduates would be deployed where they were needed.

On CAPS training, Mr Mweli stated that 336 individuals had been trained at foundation phase. It had taken place in March 2011. Three provinces were lagging behind, that is, Gauteng, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal.

Ms Mncube stated that inner city schools performed badly. Did the Department fund them? Some schools in Grade 1 teach in African languages and then in other languages. There were however schools that offered Grades 4 and 5 in African languages but did not have African language textbooks. She pointed out that scholar transport was a provincial competency, but each province responded differently. A national policy was needed for school transport and it should be under the Department of Transport. The Funza Lushaka Bursaries were intended to focus on teachers who specialise in maths and science. The teachers linked up with foreign teachers who shared knowledge and experience. It was happening in Gauteng, was it happening in other provinces? When would the quintile system be revised and implemented?

Mr Padayachee stated that the issue of scholar transport was being looked at by the Department and the Department of Transport.

Ms Ndhambi, referring to the Funza Lushaka Bursaries, stated the Department was trying to enhance access since 2008. The targeted quintiles were 1-3 schools. In 2008 there were 20 000 applicants and in 2010 there were 70 000 applicants for a Bachelor in Education degree.

Ms Rasmeni asked what the state of technical schools was.

Mr De Villiers asked about the progress with the Eastern Cape education problem.

Mr Kojana spoke to school sport which was an issue which the Committee had raised on a previous occasion. He stated that on the 5 November 2011 the Ministers of Basic Education and of Sport and Recreation would sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The Committee would be invited to the launch and would be furnished with copies of the MOU.

The meeting was adjourned.


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