Meeting SummaryThe National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) report was an evaluation survey based on visits to 74 schools in the provinces Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Western Cape by five evaluators (the NEEDU team). The purpose of the survey was to establish why high schools and their feeder primary schools were under-performing; to identify good practices from good performing primary schools; and to evaluate the extent to which schools implemented the national initiatives introduced by the Minister to improve learning outcomes.
Findings were that teachers focused on formal written assessments for monitoring of student learning and that other equally important forms of assessments, were not used. School-based assessment tasks were of low quality and did not include high order skills such as problem solving and practical tasks. The majority of principals abdicated their curriculum management responsibilities and did not monitor curriculum delivery, including control of classroom practices and monitoring of teachers’ work. There was also little evidence that principals initiated and facilitated staff development and only a handful of primary school principals knew the performance levels in language and mathematics at their schools. NEEDU also observed that while most teachers kept files with lesson plans, some teachers did not have clear daily lesson plans. Most primary school teachers had very low expectations for their learners in language and mathematics and most schools completely ignored key components of teaching reading. Many schools did not cater for learners with barriers to learning; reading materials were insufficient; learner workbooks supplied by DBE were not used appropriately; and learners (and, in some cases, teachers) found English as a language of teaching and learning challenging.
School timetables for effective use of school time, curriculum coverage and homework required attention. The required time for teaching reading and mathematics was not observed and no time was assigned to national initiatives to improve learning outcomes. NEEDU also observed that Integrated Quality Management System teacher needs and plans for professional development were seldom addressed.
A separate controlled scientific study to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning in 100 schools across the provinces would be conducted between January and March 2012 and the final report would be available in April 2012.
Members asked what informed NEEDU to choose the five provinces; if NEEDU planned follow-up visits to the schools it had evaluated; who would conduct the upcoming scientific study; if NEEDU advised educators on requirements of the curriculum; what could be done about adherence to the time table; why some principals were not empowered as curriculum managers; what was being done to improve the quality of teachers; and if NEEDU was following up on intervention programmes for learners who had blockages and unsuitable attitudes towards learning.
Members felt that although the report was a preliminary survey, until such time that a scientific report was submitted to the Committee, the survey findings would be considered as valid. Their concern was how the findings would be followed-up. The National Planning Commission had recommended that up to 6000 professionals should be pulled out of retirement to serve as mentors at every under-performing school.
DBE agreed that there could not be improvement unless there was post evaluation follow-up support and that 6000 professionals would add value and support to the poor performing schools. Unions had also raised the issue that follow-up work was not being done. DBE would explore whether the system could afford funding for 6000 professionals and what role the district officials would play in managing the work of the professionals. DBE was scrutinising how the sector’s existing funding was being used. Currently, South Africa spent three to four billion rand on textbooks in the SADC region (the greatest contributor), while less than 40% of South Africa’s learners had their own textbook. DBE was also addressing the artificially increased cost of textbooks.
The Education Labour Relations Council (ERLC) then briefed the Committee on the ELRC study on the appropriateness of the current salary structure in public education. The Centre for Educational and Policy Development (CEPD) had been commissioned by the ELRC to conduct the study and found that there were four distinct phases of salary development since 1994 and these were outlined in detail in the presentation.
Within South Africa, salaries were adequate to attract new entrants to the profession and teachers starting out were paid higher salaries than other professions. At the higher end, salaries were generous and incentives were provided for experienced teachers. In the following months, DBE and ERLC would be debating with the Unions on choices for linking pay to performance. The research team recommended that the ELRC revive both performance-based pay and professionalising teaching as key strategic objectives informing the bargaining agenda for the coming period. ELRC stakeholders had to determine what they wanted to achieve and agree on incentives. Once there was agreement, a sound, fair and credible system was needed that was agreed between the employer and the trade unions.
Members asked for more information on the gap in the salary structure between principals and teachers; what impact withdrawal of the accelerated progression payment programme had on the education system;
if CEPD tendered for the contract and what the link was between the ELRC and CEPD; how Recognition of Prior Learning was placed with the ELRC; and if there was a conscious plan to increase teacher salaries.
National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) on findings of evaluation of functionality of 100 schools
Mr SG (Paddy) Padayachee, Acting Deputy Director-General: Department of Basic Education, welcomed the opportunity for DBE to present on the progress made by NEEDU.
Dr Sibusiso Sithole, Chief Director: Department of Basic Education said that it was important to note that the report on the 74 schools in five provinces – Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Western Cape, visited by five members (the NEEDU team) was a pre-evaluation survey and not a scientific report. Selection of schools was based on their Annual National Assessments (ANA) performance and Grade 12 national exam results and data was mainly anecdotal. A variety of evaluation and observational instruments were used. The purpose of the survey was to establish why high schools and their feeder primary schools were under-performing; to identify good practices from good performing primary schools; and to evaluate the extent to which schools implemented the national initiatives introduced by the Minister to improve learning outcomes, including ANA, learner workbooks and the Foundation for Learning Programme. A separate controlled scientific study to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning in 100 schools across the provinces would be conducted between January and March 2012 and the final report would be available in April 2012.
NEEDU’s focus was on key essential drivers of quality to improve learner outcomes. These were monitoring of student learning, instructional leadership of the principal, curriculum quality, opportunity to learn (OTL) and professional development and collaboration.
Findings on monitoring of student learning were that teachers focused on formal written assessments and that other equally important forms of assessment, were not used. School-based assessment (SBA) tasks, particularly in primary schools, did not cover the curriculum. They were of low quality; were not comparable with external assessment and did not include high order skills such as problem solving and practical tasks.
Only in isolated cases, there was evidence that SBAs or external assessments informed planning; teaching strategies; and school-based or district-based interventions.
NEEDU findings on instructional leadership practices of principals were that the majority of principals had abdicated their curriculum management responsibilities and did not monitor curriculum delivery, including control of classroom practices and monitoring of teachers’ work. There was also little evidence that principals initiated and facilitated staff development through the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMA) of the Employment of Educators Act and only a handful of primary school principals knew the performance levels in language and mathematics at their schools. Also, only in very few cases did principals use ANA to identify appropriate school intervention programmes, to develop a School Improvement Plan (as required by Whole- School Evaluations (WSE) policy), or to develop an Academic Performance Improvement Plan (as required in terms of the Education Laws Amendment Act).
With regard to quality of curriculum, NEEDU observed that while most teachers kept files with lesson plans, some teachers did not have clear daily lesson plans and at most schools, work schedules and lesson planning were not informed by the findings in ANA. Most primary school teachers had very low expectations for their learners in language and mathematics and most schools completely ignored key components of teaching reading. In many classrooms, there was no differentiated teacher to cater for learners with different learning styles and learners with barriers to learning, such as foetal alcohol syndrome; reading materials were insufficient; learner workbooks supplied by DBE were not used appropriately; and learners (and in some cases, teachers) had a challenge using English as a language of teaching and learning.
NEEDU observed that there was a problem with school timetables for effective use of time, curriculum coverage and homework. The required time for teaching reading and mathematics was not observed and in extreme cases, time for teaching mathematics was only half the required minimum time. Furthermore, many schools lost instruction time on maintaining order; they were not given sufficient written work in language and mathematics; no time was assigned to problematic areas as revealed by ANA; and there was no homework policy.
While the Minister’s Delivery Agreement acknowledged a need for the development of new training packages for schools through distance education and e-Education, IQMS teacher needs were seldom addressed. Almost all school improvement plans did not indicate how professional development needs of teachers would be addressed.
Currently NEEDU was conducting procurement processes to appoint a service provider that would provide technical assistance to NEEDU to conduct the upcoming scientific study. NEEDU had developed instruments to be used to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning and a service provider had been appointed to quality-assure these instruments and ensure their credibility.
The Acting Chairperson commented that it was good that NEEDU had identified challenges in schools and that national intervention for improvement in the quality of education in schools had been analysed. She asked for an example of a province that was performing well and one which was not performing well.
Dr Sithole replied that Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga was the worst performing school in Mpumalanga. Before establishing the teacher and learner performance, NEEDU observed that there were challenges with the building structure, the road to access the school and support from the district. Furthermore, it was evident that ANA had not been used for improvement of learning outcomes. In the Upington area of the Northern Cape, where schools performed well, again it was observed that ANA had not been utilised as intended by DBE.
Mr C Moni (ANC) asked what good had been achieved from the NEEDU survey.
Mr Yusuf Gabru, National Education Evaluation and Development Unit member, replied that there was a lot of goodwill in the system: teachers wanted to teach and principals wanted their schools to do well. DBE had to assist, support and intervene to create a successful school system.
Mr Moni asked what society would be created, based on the deficiencies identified by NEEDU; if education was a socialisation project or if it was mechanically developing children into a professor or a doctor.
Mr Gabru said that NEEDU recognised that schools played an important part in forming society and vice versa and there were many factors which influenced the outcome of the student. A lengthy debate on the topic could be arranged with the Committee.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked what informed NEEDU to choose the five provinces.
Mr Gabru replied that the study was experimental with the purpose to test instruments, protocols and procedures. These were changed as the study went along. The five provinces chosen were the most difficult areas to study. While NEEDU learned much in the process, it was reluctant to make broad generalisations and proposals about what needed to be done on the basis of what was found.
Ms Mushwana asked if follow-up visits to the schools were planned.
Mr Gabru replied that visits were difficult to organise because of school exams and holidays. In the New Year, visits and follow-ups would be planned efficiently with a staff of 25 people as opposed to five people. The budget allowed for two people per province. He wished to clarify that while NEEDU conducted the experimental study, it was employing an outside agency to conduct the visits to the 100 schools. Through close association with the agency, NEEDU would fine-tune its instruments, develop protocols and train the recruited staff. NEEDU envisaged that after the study, it would not outsource and would conduct the school visits itself. A plan would be presented to the Committee in the New Year.
The Chairperson asked who had been contracted to conduct the scientific study.
Dr Sithole replied that NEEDU was in the process of finalising who would be contracted for the study.
Ms Mushwana asked where punctuality had been located in the system, particularly for school starting time.
Dr Sithole replied that punctuality was part of time and task, located under ‘opportunity to learn’.
Ms Mushwana agreed that NEEDU should focus on curriculum documents for educators as many of them were not aware of how to utilise documents such as ANA.
Dr Sithole said that a number of assessment documents, including the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) were part of the formal structure of the curriculum. It was not an issue of educators not knowing about them, but rather an issue of not implementing them or adhering to the curriculum.
Ms Mushwana asked if lesson planning was still a requirement of DBE.
Dr Sithole replied that a variety of lesson plan practices were observed at different schools and even within the same school. Teachers received advice from the district content advisor and advice varied between districts. DBE intended to make it clear what was expected for preparation of lessons.
Ms Mushwana asked if NEEDU advised educators on requirements of the curriculum.
Dr Sithole replied that NEEDU did not advise teachers but consulted with the district advisors who advised teachers so as not to offer conflicting advice. NEEDU did however offer advice when faced with obvious issues which were dramatically conflicting with the district advice.
Ms Mushwana asked what could be done about adherence to the timetable.
Mr K Dikgobo (AZAPO) asked if the timetable for maths was incorrect or if teachers were not teaching maths for the required number of hours. He felt that the district office should identify such a problem at the beginning of the year.
Dr Sithole replied that schools seldom had an issue of adhering to a timetable. Rather, there was the problem of a shortage of personnel to teach maths. Thus, while the timetable for maths was correct, the actual teaching of maths was insufficient. These issues should be identified very early in the year so that schools adhered to clear guidelines for timetables set out by CAPS.
Ms Mushwana asked if incentives such as those based on the Integrated Performance Management System (IPMS) had time frames.
Dr Sithole replied that NEEDU did not look at incentive time frames in the study.
Mr Dikgobo commented that until a scientific report was submitted to the Committee, the survey findings would be considered as important and valid. The question was how it would be used so that it was not considered fruitless expenditure.
Dr Sithole replied that important observations were made. NEEDU had not yet presented the report to the Minister, whereby the DBE delivery unit would address the findings within National office, together with provincial offices and through districts for optimal effect.
Mr Dikgobo asked for comment on the incident where a school refused NEEDU entry into a classroom.
Dr Sithole replied that the refusal for admission into a classroom occurred in one province and was simply an issue of miscommunication. The purpose for the visit had not been given and permission had not been granted prior to the visit. There was no animosity and all requests for reports and information outside the classroom were welcomed by the school. The school was not defensive and the visit could have been conducted the following day. One day did not change the performance of a school – NEEDU could tell how a school was performing whether they window-dressed or not.
Mr Dikgobo asked how NEEDU observed that the schools were compliant when it was found that schools did not follow policy for hours of class work and were not given homework.
Ms Dudley suggested that more focus should be on compulsory homework for students as the amount of time dedicated towards homework impacted on their results.
Dr Sithole replied that the presentation referred to compliance with keeping of assessment records. Schools kept good assessment records, although use of the assessment results was lacking. Indeed, the issue of homework would receive attention.
Mr N Kganyago (UDM) asked if the teachers that were struggling to teach English were in any of the 32 high schools and how NEEDU ensured that the qualifications of those teachers had been verified.
Dr Sithole replied that this was a problem in primary schools, not high schools.
Ms A Mashishi (ANC) asked why some principals were not empowered as curriculum managers.
Dr Sithole replied that those principals who were not empowered was because they tended not to be involved in CAPS training and were not aware of training for principals.
Ms Mashishi asked for clarity on the findings in independent schools.
Dr Sithole replied that independent schools had not been visited.
Mr W James (DA) commented that the country did not have a lack of analyses, but rather a lack of ‘what to do’ about the findings of the analysis. He cited recommendations made by the National Planning Commission Minister, Mr Trevor Manuel, which related to the work of NEEDU. One recommendation, which was crucial for NEEDU’s identification of under-performing schools, was that performing schools should be left alone. Intervention should be focused on the under-performing schools. This was happening in the Western Cape Province.
Dr Sithole replied that it was important to learn from good practice at good schools.
Mr James added that another important recommendation in the National Planning Commission report was that up to 6000 professionals should be seconded (pulled out of retirement) to serve as mentors at every under-performing school for turn-around performance. He asked for NEEDU’s response on how it would identify these schools and support the initiative to help under-performing schools.
Dr Sithole replied that 6000 professionals would add value and support the poor performing schools. Unions had raised the point a number of times that while NEEDU performed evaluations, there was no follow-up on the work that needed to be done. DBE would explore whether the system could afford 6000 professionals and what role the district officials would play in managing the work of the professionals. It was clear that there could not be improvement unless there was support following evaluations.
Mr Padayachee added that in terms of funding, DBE was scrutinising how the sector’s existing funding was being used before requesting additional funding. Currently, South Africa spent three to four billion rand on textbooks in the SADC region (the greatest contributor), while less than 40% of South Africa’s learners had their own textbook. Also, the cost of textbooks was 30 to 50 times the actual cost of the textbook. DBE was looking at addressing these areas.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) commented that while many observations presented by NEEDU were helpful, the question was what to do about the findings. She asked for more information on ‘blockage to learning’, such as with children who had foetal alcohol syndrome. Some presentations at the public hearings had made mention of children who were blocked out to learning and who had attitudes toward learning that were not suitable and intervention programmes had been suggested. She asked if NEEDU was following up on those programmes.
Dr Sithole replied that unfortunately NEEDU’s focus was on in-school factors. Social factors which affected learners had been discussed and would be considered as part of NEEDU’s vision going forward.
Mr D Smiles (DA) urged NEEDU to follow up on the valuable findings of the report. As stated by other Members, even though the report was not scientific, it should not have been done in vain and follow-up was important, whether done by NEEDU or the districts. Some follow-ups were on basic issues such as homework being done. If quality control was delayed, quality student learning was denied. He also felt that mandatory lesson planning should be re-introduced.
Dr Sithole replied that NEEDU had intended to conduct follow-ups but due to staff shortage and time constraints could not do so.
Mr Smiles urged NEEDU to capture what was occurring at 100 Foundation Phase schools before commencing with studies on the higher grades.
Dr Sithole replied that NEEDU focused on the Foundation Phase and the report reflected the Foundation Phase issues.
The Chairperson commented that Members were unanimous in the basic question ‘where to from here’. Although NEEDU was under-staffed and the target to reach 100 schools had not been made, much work had been done and the Committee was assured that vacancies would be filled and 100 schools would be visited by the end of the financial year. The report clearly indicated that the quality of teachers was a problem and if this was not addressed, the same issues would repeat year after year. She asked how DBE addressed the lack of teacher development and lack of teacher support.
Mr Paddayachee replied that the quality of a teacher depended on a number of factors: South Africa’s history of apartheid and ‘from where we come’; the change in the curriculum; lack of adequate management; the system failed to support the teacher; and the need for training. The Teacher Development Framework addressed these issues.
The DBE Action Plan to 2014 and Basic Education Delivery Agreement had identified key issues. These were: delivery of the curriculum; teacher development; support – particularly at the level closest to the school, which was from the districts; and ensuring that both learners and teachers had support material by 2014. DBE would return to the Committee in the near future to provide details on plans to address the findings of the survey.
Mr Dikgobo said that it was still not clear what benefit the educator received after NEEDU’s evaluation and he would welcome such answers in a follow-up meeting.
The Chairperson thanked NEEDU for their presentation and was happy that their work was directed at improvement in the quality of education in the country. The Committee did not doubt the value of NEEDU’s work but would require a follow-up session from the DBE delivery unit on what would be done.
Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) study on appropriateness of current salary structure in public education
Mr Dhaya Govender, ELRC General Secretary, apologised for the late submission of the research report. He briefed the Committee on the ELRC study on the current salary structure in public education.
ERLC had commissioned the Centre for Educational and Policy Development (CEPD) to conduct a literature review on comparative studies, examine the current educator salary system including stakeholder concerns. The study found that there were four distinct phases in the development of educator salaries and conditions from 1994 to the present.
Phase 1: It was found that in the 1990s there were inequalities with respect to gender and race and the salary played an important role in raising qualification level.
Phase 2: Between 2000 and 2008, incentives related to qualifications continued, with emphasis changing to performance. Various attempts were introduced to link pay to performance and then withdrawn due to various implementation challenges.
Phase 3: In 2008, the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) agreements sought to improve career opportunities and enable progression of educators within the system, to reward good and outstanding performance and to provide incentives for experienced and capable teachers. Minimum and maximum salaries were agreed within a complex system that allowed movement of educators between 221 notches, each of which was valued at 1% salary.
Phase 4: In 2009 the Collective Agreement No. 4 was concluded to finalise matters linked to the OSD. Five areas were addressed: (1) a proposed salary structure in public education (2) recognition of experience (3) salary progression and accelerated salary progression (4) improvement of conditions of service for educators on REQV 10-12 and (5) senior and master teachers.
The research team concluded that the salary ranges of 2008, which constituted the current salary system, were still appropriate. At the lower end salaries were adequate to attract new entrants and at the higher end they were generous and provided incentive for experienced teachers not only to remain the schooling system, but to remain in the classroom. The issue that needed to be addressed was movement and progression of educators. One immediate way of speeding up movement was to increase the value of a notch so that new system would have 144 notches as opposed to 221.
The research findings suggest that stakeholders might want to revive the accelerated pay progression of 3% for good and 6% for outstanding performance but because of very severe financial constraints the matter may not be brought to the bargaining table.
Performance-related pay had failed for reasons ranging from lack of commitment at line management level to systemic challenges that undermined its credibility and was not currently being implemented. The agreed view was that without performance management, performance-linked pay could not work. The current approach was to separate development appraisal from performance assessment and also to separate IQMS from performance assessment and reintroduce pay increases linked to performance on an incremental basis at some stage in the future. The research team recommended that the ELRC revive both performance-based pay and professionalising teaching as a key strategic objective informing the bargaining agenda for the coming period. ELRC stakeholders had to determine what they wanted to achieve and agree on incentives. Once there was agreement, a sound, fair and credible system was needed that was agreed between the employer and the trade unions.
The case for additional teachers to reduce class size or provide additional support in socially disadvantaged schools, additional spending on Learning and Teaching Support Material, libraries, resource centres could be made. However, any case for additional spending on salaries would have to be a strong one and in the context of general salary increases as opposed to targeted salary increases would not be an easy one to make.
Mr Govender highlighted the fact that the report was done by the CEPD and did not mean in any way that Parties to the Council had agreed to anything specific. The Parties had agreed to review the findings of the report and extract relevant information to inform various discussions and engagements on the salaries and conditions for educators, in line with dealing with the residual matters derived from Collective Agreements 1 and 2 of 2008/2009 on the OSD.
Mr Smiles noted the difference between the salary of the principal and level 1 educator. He asked what were the pros and cons of the salary structure. For the principal the pros were clear.
Mr Govender replied that a level 1 teacher could progress to earn as much as a deputy principal. The system made provision for the classroom teacher to become a teaching and learning specialist or a senior teacher and learning specialist, based on qualification, performance and competence. That in turn would remove the obvious difference between the level 1 teacher and principal. The Master Teacher (M+4) maximum salary was R344 000 and the Principal (P5) maximum salary was R582 000. The gap closed as teachers progressed.
Mr Smiles asked if CEPD tendered for the contract and what the link was between the ELRC and CEPD.
Mr Govender replied that in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act, due process was followed for the procurement of a preferred service provider.
Mr Dikgobo asked what the advantages were of moving the Relative Education Qualification Value (REQV) 10 to REQV 12, or REQV 13. In the OSD 2008, it was agreed that by 2013 the minimum qualification would be REQV 14 [Matric + 4 yrs training]. It appeared then that within a few years, teachers would be regarded as under qualified. He asked how far DBE was with Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), as 2013 was around the corner.
Mr Govender replied that RPL would assist for salary purposes but RPL for qualification purposes would depend on the institution and individual. The ELRC had the competence to deal with salaries but had limitations in relation to the RPL.
Mr Dikgobo commented that Collective Agreements meant that there was agreement, yet it was confusing for educators when in 2006 the accelerated progression programme was introduced and in 2008 it progressed further, only to be nullified in 2009. Now it was recommended that it should be reintroduced. He asked what impact these actions had on the system.
Ms Simone Geyer, Chief Director: Education Human Resource Management; Department of Basic Education, said that the fast accelerated progression was withdrawn as there was a dilemma around teachers not being given Recognition of Experience in the 2008 OSD. There was money allocated for Recognition of Experience but in negotiations, Labour felt that the money should be spread across all the teachers rather than allocated to teachers who had years of experience. Thus there was no Recognition of Experience in 2008. In OSD discussions in 2009, DBE moved to resolve the matter quickly as there was a lot of unhappiness around the uncertainty and was allowed a second bite at the OSD (other public services did not get a second OSD) as there was a strong view on the side of Labour that teachers should get Recognition of Experience rather than accelerated pay. To achieve funding, DBE forfeited the accelerated pay and the 0.5% notch difference and going forward, that money could be used to offset the costs in lieu of Recognition of Experience. In 2009, R2.3 billion out of the required R4.6 billion was received from Cabinet and going forward, the over-expenditure on the budget was expected to break even in 2017.
Ms Mushwana said that South African teachers were not paid well and should not be compared to other countries. She asked if there was a conscious plan to increase their salaries.
Mr Govender replied that when South African teacher salaries were compared to those of similar types of countries, only the Philippines paid their teachers higher salaries than South Africa. Within South Africa, teachers starting out were paid higher salaries than other professions. The only issue was the ability of teachers to increase their income comparatively over time. In the following months, DBE would be debating choices for linking pay to performance. What was clear was that DBE needed solutions urgently and that the focus was on turning around poor performing schools over a period of three to four years.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the ELRC and DBE for their presentation and looked forward to the following meeting at which time it was hoped that the solutions could be shared with the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
- National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) presentation
- Lesson Observation Tool (Literacy: Grades 1-3)
- 2. Instructional Leadership
- Pathways to Achievement: Essential Drivers of Quality to Improve Learner Outcomes
- ELRC Study on appropriateness of current salary structure in Public Education presentation
- Curriculum Quality
- Assessment of Student Learning (Evaluative Potential)
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