SC Education: Consideration of First-Term Committee Programme

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

08 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered and adopted its first term programme as amended. An issue which elicited much discussion was the section 100(b) intervention that was imposed in the Eastern Cape as a result of the crisis in education in that province. The Department of Basic Education was scheduled to provide the Committee with a progress report on the Eastern Cape Intervention on 15 February 2012. Members felt the meeting to be especially important since an oversight visit to the Easter Cape was planned in the near future. The information imparted at the meeting would better prepare Members for the oversight visit. Members felt it necessary that a political head be present at the meeting for better accountability. Especially, since it came to light in the meeting that the Minister and her team was no longer part of the intervention as per the wishes of the people of the Eastern Cape.  The Committee agreed that if the Minister was not available on the scheduled day then the meeting could be shifted a day forward to accommodate the Minister.

Meeting report

First-Term Committee Programme January – March 2012
The Chairperson stated that the programme before the Committee was a draft one. Some of the issues on the agenda were derived from previous meetings and from resolutions taken by the Committee.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) notified Members that she had come from a programming meeting and asked Members to check their schedules. The Committee needed to have management meetings continuously to avoid clashes in the programmes. For example on 16 February 2012 some provinces were making their State of the Provinces Addresses and yet there were some committees sitting on those days. The programme of the Adhoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill also needed to be taken into account when the Committee finalised its programme.

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) agreed with Ms Ranto’s comment that management meetings needed to be held more consistently. She also agreed that the work of the Adhoc Committee was important and this had to be factored.

Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) pointed out that committees were also sitting on 17 February 2012 when other provinces were making their State of the Provinces Addresses.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) asked whether the Committee had the programme of the Adhoc Committee before it as well. If not then she suggested that the meeting be reconvened so that the Adhoc Committee Programme and the Committee Programme could be considered at the same time.

The Chairperson clarified that the programme before Members was a draft one to which amendments could be made. Once changes had been made the programme then became final. She was aware that provinces were making their State of the Provinces Addresses on 16 and 17 February 2012

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) stated that Adhoc Committee members would only be in Parliament after 1 March 2012.

Ms Ranto pointed out that only two Committee members served on the Adhoc Committee. If there were clashes the entire Committee Programme could not be disrupted because of the absence of two members. The Committee’s meetings had to go ahead.

The Chairperson agreed that it was reality that only two members would be missing meetings where there were clashes.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) referred to the scheduled briefing by the North West, Kwazulu-Natal and Free State Provincial Departments of Basic Education on their Annual Reports 2010/2011 and their Turn-Around Strategies on 7 March 2012. The issue was whether the allocated time for the meeting from 10:00am to 12:30pm was sufficient to accommodate all three provinces.  He proposed that only two provinces be allowed to brief the Committee in the allocated time period and that the third province be scheduled at another time. The Committee Secretary, Mr Mzuyanda Dlanga, was requested to obtain the required documents for the briefings beforehand so that Members could peruse them prior to the meeting.

The Chairperson replied that Committee could meet in the morning and the afternoon if more time was needed to fit in all three provinces.

Ms Mncube stated that the Committee had to monitor and evaluate the intervention made in terms of section 100(b) of the Constitution in the Eastern Cape. Was the Committee not supposed to go back to the Eastern Cape to check up on the progress? She also noted that even though the section 100(b) intervention in the Limpopo Province fell within the realm of finance, education was nevertheless affected.

Ms Rantho referred to the scheduled meeting on 14 February 2012 where the Department of Basic Education had to give the Committee a progress report on the Eastern Cape Intervention. She informed the Committee that the Minister of Basic Education had been chased way from the Eastern Cape and that the Minister and her team was no longer part of the Eastern Cape Intervention. The people of the Eastern Cape only accepted President Zuma and his delegation. From 17 January 2012 up until now nothing had changed in the Eastern Cape. She felt that the Minister should speak to the issue on the day when the progress report was to be given to the Committee. 

Ms Rasmeni stated that the issues raised by Members had been taken into consideration when the draft Programme had been compiled. She felt it important that the Committee be given a progress report on the Eastern Cape before the Committee embarked on its oversight visit to the province.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had taken a resolution that the Department of Basic Education was to provide it with quarterly reports on the situation in Eastern Cape.  A team would be formed and members of the Committee would form part of that team.

Ms Mncube also referred to the Department’s scheduled briefing on 14 February 2012 and asked whether the Director General and the Minister would be present. If the meeting clashed with a Cabinet meeting the Minister would in all likelihood not make it.

Mr De Villiers drew Members attention to the fact that the 14th was on a Tuesday, the correct date for the meeting would thus be on 15 February 2012 which was on a Wednesday when the Committee had its meetings. He echoed earlier sentiments that documents should be forwarded to the Committee well before meetings. The Department of Basic Education had to brief the Committee before members embarked on its oversight tour to the Eastern Cape.
In addition, he informed Members that the Chief Whip wanted applications for international study tours to be made timeously. If applications were made late then trips would not be approved. If the Committee intended to undertake a study tour to Finland he suggested that the trip be taken from the 18 March to the 23 March 2012. The decision of a study tour was taken last year by the Committee. Was it still necessary?

The Chairperson agreed that the Committee held its meetings on Wednesdays. In addition, she noted that if the Minister or Deputy Minister could not make it to the meeting because of clashes then it would good enough to have the Director General. Other committees which had Wednesday meetings would be similarly affected by the absence of Ministers. Lastly, on the Eastern Cape issue, she stated that she would rely on the whips to motivate the matter.

Ms Boroto said that as far as she understood the cabinet meetings on Wednesdays did not include Deputy Ministers. She felt the Eastern Cape issue to be a fragile one and that it was not good enough to only have officials present at the meeting of the 15 February 2012. It was important for a politician to be present at the meeting. The Committee had to be clear as to what its role and focus should be when it visited the Eastern Cape.

The Chairperson stated that if the Minister was not available on the Wednesday 15 February 2012 the meeting could be shifted to Tuesday 14 February 2012 to accommodate the Minister.

The Committee agreed to the suggestion made by the Chairperson.

Ms Rantho sought clarity on whether the Department of Higher Education would brief the Committee on its Annual Report on the 22 March 2012.

Mr Mashamaite referred to the earlier issue of only having two provinces brief the Committee on the 7 March 2012 instead of three. Which provincial briefing would be postponed until a later date? The three provinces were North West, Kwazulu-Natal and Free State.

The Chairperson stated that two briefings were doable for that day and asked Members which province would be left out.

Ms Moshodi suggested that Kwazulu-Natal should be left out.

Mr De Villiers asked if it would not be better if the Committee shifted the briefing by the Department of Higher Education on its Annual Report to the 22 February 2012 instead of having the briefing by them and the Human Resources Development Council of SA (HRDCSA) on skills development.

The Chairperson said that the skills development briefing was equally important and should go ahead as scheduled.

Mr Dlanga pointed out that the Deputy President was the Chairperson of the HRDCSA. The Department of Higher Education and the HRDCSA had wished to do the briefing for a long time but the Committee always postponed it. The Committee had agreed that the briefing on the Department’s Annual Report could be postponed. He however suggested that it was possible to have both briefings on the same day if the Committee so wished. The Minister would unfortunately not be able to attend the meeting as there was a prior engagement in Cuba.

The Chairperson asked if the Committee was agreed on having both briefings on 22 February 2012 as there was no plenary.

The Committee agreed.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee Secretary would update the Committee Programme and lodge the application for the international study tour to Finland.

The Committee adopted the First Term Draft Programme as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.


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