School Infrastructure Challenges: update; Basic Education 3rd Quarter 2011 Report

Basic Education

13 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms M Malgas (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Quarterly Report (3rd Quarter 2011/12)
The core activity during the third quarter was the 2011 National Senior Certificate final examinations, against the backdrop of the new DBE organisational structure (25 November 2011) and PERSAL system; administration of admissions at public schools; school readiness preparations for the 2012 academic year; and direct engagement with District Directors to advocate improvement of teaching and learning.

Regulations in terms of Section 38A of the South African Schools Act had been published on 15 December 2011. The
National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) Bill was published for public comment in the Government Gazette of 23 December 2011.

The National Catalogue of Textbooks had assisted with quality; utilization; efficiency and budgeting for books. It reduced the number of textbooks available for schools to choose from and reduced theft. DBE believed that it could, through efficiency and cost-effectiveness, increase Learner Teacher Support Material coverage from 45% to 80%, without a significant increase in the budget. DBE had used savings on textbooks to provide additional Maths and Science textbooks to Grades 10-12 and to develop Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), professionalise Teacher Unions and promote learning and teaching initiatives.

Preparation on CAPS Orientation for Grade 11 in 2012 had been finalized and the Provincial Education Department, together with DBE, had commissioned Teacher Unions as the service provider to undertake training of teachers, with the objective to help professionalise the Teacher Unions. The programme was proving to be promising.

No specialised training in the identification and support of special needs had taken place in full service or special service schools. This was due to the implementation and prioritization of the CAPS process in 2012.

As part of the
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) advertised for contractors for construction of the first 28 of 50 schools on 16 October 2011 and was in the process of procuring contractors for the remaining 22 schools. Fifty-four percent of the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) had been spent by Provincial Education Departments as at the end of October 2011. Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape were the lowest spending provinces on the grant.

A successful National School Health Week was convened in October 2011, with 96 321 Learners from 34 districts participating. Focus was on health screening of Grade 1 learners in Quintile 1 primary schools.

Members asked who
developed materials for workbooks internally; about the cost of maths and science books; if DBE was becoming a book publisher in its own right; if in-house production of books and cost savings impacted on the quality of the books; why the National Catalogue Policy was necessary and why all schools should have the same textbook; if DBE was informing officials on what was happening with textbook distribution; and how DBE ensured schools adhered to the Retriever of Textbooks Policy.

Members also asked for more information on the MOU
with the Teacher Unions on CAPS training; what exactly was expected to be achieved with the MOU; if there was a deadline for Teacher Unions - as the service provider; why DBE continued to rely on a structure that had let DBE down and that was politicised; and if there was a deadline for signing of MOUs with Teacher Performance Appraisals and performance contracts with Principals.

Members then
asked if mechanisms were in place for monthly monitoring and evaluation of the provincial budgets and gaps in accountability; why annual targets where aggregated; why DBE relied on StatsSA figures and not DBE figures when referring to Grade R participation; how NEEDU assisted with delivery of education; and whether NEEDU duplicated oversight functions.

Finally,
Members were interested in why there had been a delay in the roll-out of laptops to teachers which had been promised for years. They also noted that the total lack of special needs training was unacceptable.

Progress Report on Infrastructure
DBE was concerned about t
he low expenditure on infrastructure in the Eastern Cape, which was 28% as compared to the expected outcome of 75%. The North West and Northern Cape also reported very low levels of spending at 51% and 56%, respectively. Limpopo and Mpumalanga spent above the expected level at 88% and 84% respectively and the reason for this was that they were slow to start spending in the previous year. The amount allocated per province was determined by backlogs and infrastructure needs and was linked to the size of the province and was thus not based on what funding had been provided by the provinces. The largest allocation of R1.2 billion was allocated to KwaZulu-Natal.

DBE had transferred the final tranche from the EIG to Provincial Education Departments on 27 January 2012. Transfer to the Eastern Cape was withheld due to its under-spending. DBE had engaged with Eastern Cape to assist with interventions to improve spending.

ASIDI was addressing eradication of inappropriate structures and basic services backlogs in schools. Completion date of construction of 49 schools in the Lusikisiki, Libode and Umtata regions was anticipated to be 31 August 2012. Going forward, DBE planned to use Framework Agreements, which guaranteed delivery success of the implementing agents. It could not rely on one implementing agent (DBSA). The Mvula Trust, the implementing agent for water and sanitation projects, had appointed contractors for provision of water and sanitation in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo province, for completion in March 2012. In Kwazulu Natal, contractors for water and sanitation projects had been appointed and the Free State province was in the process of implementing projects for water, sanitation and electrification. Provisioning of sanitation in seven schools in Gauteng was expected at end of February 2012. Eskom was appointed implementing agent for electrification of schools throughout the country. Implementation had commenced and 125 connection projects were planned: 104 schools were in the Eastern Cape, 18 schools in Mpumalanga and three schools in Limpopo. Eradication of the basic services backlog was targeted for 2012/13.

Members asked
what the nature of the engagements and interventions were with the Eastern Cape with regard to under-spending; how the eradication of 400 inappropriate structures would be achieved by 2013/14; how much money had been spent on the ASIDI projects, to date; and how much the professional fee was for the ASIDI programme.

Members also asked who was monitoring the implementation, impact and value-for-money of the millions of rands given to the provinces from the EIG and provincial budgets; what the revised catch-up strategy was to accelerate delivery and ensure compliance in the Eastern Cape; and how DBE related to DBSA when it came to accountability for the lack of infrastructure implementation in the Eastern Cape.


Meeting report

Quarterly Report (3rd Quarter 2011/12)
Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Director-General: Department of Basic Education, presented the third quarter targets and achievements. The quarterly reports were managed primarily through the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, in conjunction with National Treasury. With the time available and amount of detail provided, he said he would not speak to each slide, but trusted that the information provided would facilitate questions from the Members. Responses would also be provided in further detail, in writing.

The core business activity of the education sector during the Third Quarter was the 2011 National Senior Certificate final examinations, against the backdrop of the new DBE organisational structure (25 November 2011) and PERSAL system; administration of admissions at public schools; school readiness preparations for the 2012 academic year; and direct engagement with District Directors to advocate improvement of teaching and learning.

DBE was nominated for the Public Sector Excellence 2011 Grand Prix Award and was pleased to win awards for Leadership and Community Engagement at the event.

The Annual Performance Plan was aligned to the Delivery Agreement Outcome 1 of government was dedicated to improving the quality of education and was embedded in the Action Plan to 2014 and towards realization of the Delivery Agreement of 2025.

Some activities in the programmes did not have quarterly targets but lent themselves to Annual targets only. Targets were listed in the handout material.

Programme 1: Administration

In terms of performance, progress was being made and some challenges existed. However, targets were achieved in accordance with the plan. In terms of milestones, seven new internships for unemployed graduates in DBE were enrolled and the success rate of employment post internship in DBE was high. 100 DBE officials were sent for professional development courses, where skills gaps were identified.

Five out of eleven court cases had been successfully resolved. There were prospects of successful conclusion in favour of the DBE for the six ongoing cases.

Regulations in terms of Section 38A of the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 had been approved by the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) and were published for General Notice in Gazette no. 34840 of 15 December 2011. The
NEEDU Bill was also published for public comment in the Government Gazette of 23 December 2011.

The new organisational structure (after the split of the Department of Education) was fully implemented on 25 November 2011 and the PERSAL system had been updated accordingly. Succession Planning and Recruitment & Selection policies on human resource management and development were developed.

Led by the Minister, DBE attended the South African delegation to the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on 25 October 2011-10 November 2011. DBE also successfully co-hosted the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Private Public Partnership Consultative Forum on 13 December 2011.

Expenditure was on target.

Programme 2:  Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring
Although quarterly achievements were erratic, Programme 2 was on track towards its annual target. Roll out of activities at schools was a multi-departmental effort that depended on budgets. Emphasis was on quality education and the ambitious target for Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) was 80% coverage. However, currently it was only at around 45% coverage. DBE believed it could increase coverage and quality without a significant increase in the budget through efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

A significant finding was that 83% of Grade 1 learners had received Grade R education. While the target for primary education was being achieved, the quality of education remained a challenge.

Preparation on CAPS Orientation for Grade 11 in 2012 had been finalized. While DBE set the materials, framework and terms and conditions of CAPS training, the Provincial Education Department (PED) together with DBE, agreed on the needs for CAPS and had commissioned Teacher Unions as the service provider to undertake training of teachers, with the objective to help professionalise the Teacher Unions. After some teething problems, the programme was proving to be promising. The dry-run for the National Training Teams was scheduled to take place from 6-8 February 2012 in Gauteng. The provincial orientation would be conducted in three clusters and would be concluded by 2nd March 2012.

The annual target for textbooks and workbooks available to learners was an ambitious target of 80%. In the third quarter 26,150,070 (100 %) Grade 1-6 Home language, Grade 1-9 Mathematics, Grade 1-6 FAL, Grade 1-3 Life Skills and Grade R learner workbooks were printed and would be delivered to schools from January until 15th February 2012.

In addition, 1,264,667 Grade 10 -12 Mathematics and 905,313 Physical Science textbooks were printed and would be delivered to a total of 25,060 schools from January until 15th February 2012. However, there were no milestones achieved on textbooks and workbooks to registered Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign learners. Delivery of books of different languages and different grades had challenges due to inaccurate data reported by schools regarding the mother tongue of learners. Also, schools often anticipated enrollment figures which did not play out in the coming year. DBE worked with district oversight teams and provided extra books to reduce the margin of error in 2012.

DBE had made an enormous saving on workbook costs and had used the savings to provide textbooks to grade 10 to 12. The Shuttleworth Foundation also made a book available (DBE commissioned it to be aligned with CAPS) but delivery was delayed due to the cost that a special delivery of books would incur for DBE.

Thus with the saving, DBE was able to provide grade 1 to 12 learners, including those at quintile 4 and 5 schools, with Maths and Science supplementary textbooks - considered by the screeners to be the best textbook available in the country, in addition to the Grade 1 – 9 learner workbooks on Numeracy and Literacy; Grade 1 to 3 Life Skills workbooks; and Grade R workbooks. This would be done well within the budget. In total, the distribution to schools in 2011/2012 would comprise of 53 million books. Saving from the workbook costs, with permission from National Treasury, would also be used to develop CAPS, professionalise Teacher Unions and promote learning and teaching initiatives.

An audit of school library and information services had been planned and budgeted for but the information was based on DBE policy. This related to the percentage of learners who had access to books, not library structures as such.

No specialised training in the identification and support of special needs had taken place in full service or special service schools. This was due to the implementation and prioritization of the CAPS process in 2012.

A service provider has been appointed to develop a draft national curriculum and programme based on the National Early Learning and Development Standards (NELDS) for utilisation in Early Childhood Development sites.

The National Catalogue of Textbooks had assisted with quality; utilization; efficiency and budgeting for books. It also reduced the number of textbooks available for schools to choose from and reduced theft.

Forty nine percent of the Conditional Grants had been spent and most of the expenditure of the programme could be explained in terms of implementation by the provinces.

Programme 3: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development
Most of the work in this programme was under way through implementation of Continuing Professional Development, the National Catalogue of Textbooks,
Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), LTSM research and development, as well as continuing Teacher Development in line with DBE’s focus on curriculum delivery.

Essentially, there were two factors that influenced class size and teacher utilization. These were budget and planning of teacher utilization and curriculum.

A review of the implementation of the Teacher Laptop Initiative was undertaken, whereby government would purchase and own the laptop and make it available to the educator for use.

Negotiations on the Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) and Education Management Services (EMS) for school-based educators continued at the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) during December 2011, with no agreement being reached. The bargaining process would continue early in 2012.

A total of 1165 schools were visited by IQMS moderators during the third quarter to investigate the quality of teaching and learning. These visits included 845 follow-up visits, with external moderators targeting the under-performing feeder schools in all the provinces.

A request to call for public comments on the re-organisation, roles and responsibilities of Districts had been put to the Minister as the first step towards gazetting policy. In addition, provincial and district offices had temporarily appointed complaints officers to handle admission queries from parents.

Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment
The HSRC completed and submitted the consolidated 2011 Annual National Assessments (ANA) Qualitative Report and the ANA Plan for 2012 was approved by Council of Education Ministers (CEM) in November 2011. A weakness that ANA 2011 had revealed was that learners were not able to read and understand questions. DBE was addressing this problem.

As part of the
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) advertised for contractors for construction of the first 28 of 50 schools on the 16th October 2011 and was in the process of procuring contractors for the remaining 22 schools. The Guidelines Relating to Planning for Public School infrastructure as well as for Boarding Facilities were approved by the CEM in November 2011. The designs for public ordinary schools were completed and signed off by the Director-General.

The National Senior Certificate examinations were incident free and proceeded without any major problems. Of the 56 subjects that were standardised, 45 subjects were accepted as raw scores. Of those that were adjusted, 8 were taken down and 3 were taken up. The national pass rate for 2011 was 70.2 %, representing an increase of 2.3% on the 2010 results (67.8). While the number of Bachelor passes was 120 350, down from 126 371 in 2010, the percentage of Grade 12 learners who qualified to enter a Bachelor’s programme increased to 24.3% in 2011 from 23.5% in 2010.

A draft advertisement had been prepared to be used in a media campaign on Child Support Grants in public schools. The challenge with no-fee school policy was that when provinces were under financial pressure, the trend was that transfers of funds to schools were not made. DBE was addressing this matter.

Fifty-four percent of the EIG had been spent by PEDs as at the end of October 2011. Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape were the lowest spending provinces on the grant. The Mvula Trust had been appointed as the implementing agent for the implementation of the water and sanitation projects and 578 Schools in the Eastern Cape have been assessed. Thirty-five schools had been handed over to contractors and 29 of them were in construction phase.

Education Management Information System (EMIS) capturing tools were developed and released to the provinces for use in ordinary and special needs schools and Education Development Centres.

The Protocol Agreement between DBE, Social Development and South African Social Security Agency was completed and the coordination of the signing ceremony was in progress. Sample Learner Unit Record Information Tracking System (LURITS) data had been submitted to the Department of Social Development for testing and been provided to Home Affairs in accordance with the signed Inter-governmental Protocol Agreement.

Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services
A successful National School Health Week was convened from 19 to 21 October 2011, with 96 321 Learners from 34 districts participating in the programme. Focus was on the screening of Grade 1 learners in Quintile 1 primary schools. This was a priority of the Minister of DBE.

National Nutrition Week took place at in Limpopo on Friday, 14 October 2011 to promote healthy lifestyles and emphasise nutrition knowledge, better food choices and the importance of physical activity.
The target for HIV and AIDS Life Skills Education Programme in the third quarter was to train 3106 educators. 2 683 educators were trained.

An additional 1 515 public ordinary schools had active Quality Learning and Teaching (QLTC)
committees and 2 221 Public ordinary schools were linked to their local police station.

The Ministers of Basic Education and Sport & Recreation signed the MOU on School Sport on 13 December 2011 and the draft school sport policy was announced in December 2011 for public comment.

The successful launch of the
National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) Accord on Basic Education and Partnerships with Schools was held in Butterworth, Eastern Cape on 2 October 2011 and had mobilized stakeholders tremendously.

In conclusion, DBE had learned that DBE could not only monitor, but had to lead and exercise stewardship in terms of delivery in the provinces. It had committed itself to work with provinces in an aggressive way with interventions to continue with momentum to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.

Discussion
Mr D Smiles (DA) asked why only 20 schools were connected to ICT whilst in some provinces ICT was waiting on DBE to have the opportunity to connect more schools.

Mr Soobrayan replied that it was important to distinguish the DBE quarterly report from a report on the sector and provincial competence. Indeed, there were ICT service providers who wanted to provide the service, but they came at a price and the bottom line was that DBE could not give provinces an unfunded mandate. DBE worked together with the Department of Communications to connect schools, but in terms of the roll-out, the monthly subscription also had be considered.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) asked what had been done regarding schools that were not connected with ICT.

Mr Soobrayan added that a number of options were available. Fixed-line connectivity was expensive and the rural schools required this type of connectivity. However, DBE was exploring cloud computing whereby anyone in the proximity of the school could use the bandwidth free of charge.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked if there was a deadline for roll-out of laptops to teachers.

Mr K Dikobo (AZAPO) asked what the expected target date was for each teacher in the country to have a laptop.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) said that laptops had been promised by the President in three State of the Nation Addresses.

Mr Soobrayan replied that laptop rollout was being implemented but the challenge had been that many teachers could not afford a laptop on credit (before being refunded by DBE) and the question was whether the state should buy the laptops and loan them to teachers. Finance options were being explored, as laptops were expensive and the issue was that they had to have 3G connectivity which would include a monthly rate. Again, cloud computing would reduce the monthly rate. A wireless arrangement and data card use could also be an option for teachers downloading data onto their laptop computer.

Mr Smiles commented that the lack of specialised training for identification of special needs at schools was unacceptable.

Mr Soobrayan replied that this was a challenge and was also DBE’s Achilles Heel, in terms of policy. The challenge was budget. The DBE was unhappy with the issue and the Deputy Director General would possibly explain further.

Mr Smiles asked how the expenditure on goods and services in programme 2, which was at 35% at the third quarter, would be increased to 65% in the last quarter.

Mr Soobrayan replied that slow expenditures depended on provincial performance. DBE agreed with CEM, and in keeping with legislature and the National Treasury, where certain grants were not spent, they could be targeted at improving learning performance in the province as an overall objective.

Mr Smiles asked who developed materials internally and for more information on the cost of maths and science books.

Ms Lovemore asked if DBE was becoming a book publisher in its own right and if the Shuttleworth book delivery was delayed because of that.

Mr Dikobo asked if in-house production of books and saving of costs had an impact on the quality of the books.

Mr Soobrayan replied that coincidentally the books were developed by the same people who developed books for publishers - experts in the field, teachers, university-based people, including departmental experts. Books from publishers were not of higher quality and yet the price of was much higher. This was the purpose of the National Catalogue of Textbooks and for DBE to produce its own workbooks, which were lauded by independent assessors both locally and internationally. DBE did not have a problem with delivery of books. The timing of delivery of books to all the grade 10 to 12 learners within the year, in addition to the CAPS requirements, was the reason to delay the Shuttleworth book delivery.

Mr Mpontshane asked why the National Catalogue was necessary and why all schools should have the same textbook.

Mr Soobrayan replied that there was policy on the National Catalogue as it was necessary to limit the choice of textbooks available. Research had confirmed that the choices that teachers made, especially in the districts in South Africa, were not educationally informed according to the intrinsic value of the book. Independent experts, not DBE officials, had screened the type and quality of books to be included in the National Catalogue.

Ms Lovemore asked why DBE relied on Stats SA figures and not DBE figures when referring to grade R participation.

Mr Soobrayan replied that indeed, DBE did have its own data. Quoting Stats SA, an independent source of data, offered validity and confirmed DBE data.

Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Acting Deputy Director-General: Curriculum, added that DBSA stats would only report on the universal provision of Grade R in public schools. Grade R in community-based centres would not be reflected. This would be reflected by StatsSA.

Ms Lovemore asked why annual targets where aggregated, as cumulative quarterly targets then did not seem to make sense. It appeared that the target should be the same for each quarter, as in some instances it appeared that while DBE was on track with the quarterly percent target, many issues were not resolved.

Mr Soobrayan agreed that the way in which targets were displayed was not helpful to Members and DBE would take responsibility for it. Members should be able to look at the table and know exactly what was being portrayed.

Ms A Mashishi (ANC) asked how DBE was addressing class sizes of more than 60 learners in a class.

Mr Soobrayan agreed that class size was a problem. This was driven by m
oney available linked to physical number of classrooms and curriculum choice.

Mr Smiles asked why the output target for IQMS was as low as 1165 schools.

Ms Patesa Tyobeka, DBE Deputy Director-General: Planning, Oversight and Delivery, replied that in fact over 85% of schools had been reached through IQMS over the three year programme. What had been presented was only what had been the target for the third quarter and the number of follow-up visits had not been reflected in the presentation. IQMS was the only tool used for classroom observation. The IQMS programme was reaching all its targets. In future, reporting would reflect more clearly how the schools were targeted and what was reported.

Mr Smiles commented that the lack of specialised training for identification of special needs at schools was unacceptable.

Mr Soobrayan replied that this was a challenge and was also DBE’s Achilles Heel, in terms of policy. The challenge was budget. The DBE was unhappy with the issue and the Deputy Director General would possibly explain further.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) commented that
specialised training in the identification and support of special needs in full service or special service schools should not be an annual target but should be a target for early in the year, so that skills could be effective during the school year and not at the end of the year.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked which districts were targeted for having one educator per special needs school.

Mr Soobrayan replied that there were 23 districts which each required one specialised training educator.

The Chairperson asked DBE to respond to a letter to the Committee from special schools in Gauteng, which complained that DBE was not ready to train teachers in sign language.

Mr Mweli added that he acknowledged that training had not been optimal in some provinces and that there had been delays due to coordinating of efforts to produce one manual that was nationally accepted. Special schools were now involved in training and workbooks and textbooks were being supplied. In terms of implementation of policy, historically it had not been performed adequately. This was now a focus area for DBE.

The Chairperson asked DBE to respond on the teacher dissatisfaction with CAPS training in Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces, where re-training would have to take place and on the fact that Mpumalanga had not received any CAPS training.

Mr Mweli replied that a representative from Mpumalanga indicated that he was happy with the training that had taken place. He would follow up on the issue and also what was happening in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

Ms Mushwana asked for more information on the MOU on CAPS training.

Ms Tyobeka replied that the collaboration and signing of the MOU with the unions was at the end of 2011 and the programme was initially focused on all areas where teachers could not be reached by provincial departments or DBE, such as areas in KZN and Mpumalanga. CAPS training had been conducted in those areas, in collaboration with the teacher unions.

Ms Dudley asked what exactly was expected to be achieved with the MOU with Teacher Union training of CAPS and if there was a deadline for Teacher Unions as the service provider,
Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) and Education Management Services (EMS) for school-based educators.

Mr Dikobo asked for more information on signing of performance contracts by Principals and Deputy Principals (EMS).

Ms Tyobeka replied that one of the reasons why the performance agreements with Principals could not be concluded was that despite the finalisation of CAPS and funding, many agreements on increased accountability on basic minimum requirements had to be established through discussion. On the 1st April 2012, all Principals were expected to sign performance agreements. DBE was ready for this and for more discussions with the Teacher Unions. Implementation of TPA was scheduled for 2013. DBE would invest in teacher training during 2012.

Mr Soobrayan added that performance agreements were a key focus for DBE as incorrect data from Principals affected the budget. DBE would return to the Committee with a report on the progress on the matter.

Mr Mpontshane asked what the nature of the ‘gap in skills’ was that had been identified in the 100 DBE officials who were offered professional development training.

Mr Soobrayan replied that the skills gap described was within DBE. With all Human Resource appointments, there were skills gaps which were not always identifiable at the point of employment. DBE was committed to developing employee skills.

Mr Makhubele asked if mechanisms were in place for monthly monitoring and evaluation of the provincial budgets so that weaknesses could be identified and dealt with ahead of a quarterly target.

Ms N Gina (ANC) commented that there were gaps in accountability from provinces in the quarterly reports. She asked how DBE ensured that provinces reported on time.

Mr Soobrayan agreed that monitoring of provinces was not optimal. There was lack of cooperation at times, but the relationship between province and national, as well as the level of performance, was improving. Some provinces did not report due to capacity issues and they required assistance. Monitoring of budget and expenditure was performed monthly and tabled at CEM and thus management problems could indeed be foreseen. The question outstanding was what mechanisms could be put in place to remedy the situation.

Mr Makhubele asked if the supply of textbooks was in line with the Retriever of Textbooks Policy for schools whereby they only received a top-up on textbooks rather than a new set of textbooks each year and how DBE ensured that schools adhered to the Retriever of Textbooks Policy.

Mr Soobrayan replied that in most countries, each year the maximum top-up should be 20% and in South Africa, schools ordered each year as if they were starting from scratch. The top-up policy was not being enforced and the textbook expenditure was going through the roof. DBE was working on an incentive to encourage schools to top-up annually in an efficient manner. DBE would return to the Committee to report on the progress in that regard.


Ms Gina asked if DBE was doing enough planning and informing officials of what was happening with distribution of textbooks. On an oversight visit to a school, Members had been disappointed by a DBE official who did not know when the textbooks would be posted to the school. To date, there were schools that had not received learner workbooks, yet the expectation of those teachers was that they should begin teaching on the first day of school.

Mr Mweli replied that accurate data capturing and finalisation of data was a challenge, even in the Western Cape with its good administration. There had been 100% delivery of textbooks except in the Eastern Cape – due to the standoff between unions and DBE and therefore principals not allowing delivery in the province and in Port Shepstone – where there had been flooding. There would be 100% delivery before the end of the month. Delivery of Workbook 1 for 2013 would be in November and available on the first day of school in 2013. Although there had been grey areas, there was much improvement.

Mr Mpontshane asked why DBE continued to rely on a structure, which had let DBE down. DBE had entrusted training of CAPS to unions to professionalise the unions. By definition, they were the teachers that were not professional and the admission that the unions were politicised. This was disadvantaging other members of the profession.

Ms Gina asked how DBE ensured that Teacher Unions were staying onboard as stakeholders. While Teacher Unions were adding value and were encouraged by their role in CAPS, she felt that other teachers and district subject advisors should not be excluded, so as to ensure that a balance was struck and that officials felt that they were part and parcel of CAPS implementation.

Mr Soobrayan replied that the fact that Unions may be militant should not be a reason why they do not have a partnership with the state. A scenario without unions would be to the detriment of the education system in the country. Also, the public assumed that certain incidences that they see in the media on the union and DBE was the nature of the relationship. The partnership was more complex than that. The art of working with unions was difficult, but not easier to condemn and dismiss them. The unions had come to DBE to perform the job of training and DBE had been impressed with their presentation. There was no indication that it would not work. The teething problems were not different to what DBE would experience itself.

Mr Smiles asked what role NEEDU played in IQMS and whether NEEDU duplicated functions that already existed.

Ms Gina asked exactly how NEEDU assisted with delivery of education.

The Chairperson asked when the Committee would receive the NEEDU Bill.

Ms Tyobeka requested that the Committee grant DBE the opportunity to present on NEEDU and the Planning and Delivery Oversight Unit (PDOU), in a follow-up presentation.

The Chairperson replied that a full presentation on the above topics would be welcomed by the Committee.

Mr Soobrayan thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity of a follow-up presentation and added that the fundamental difference between NEEDU and PDOU was that NEEDU was an institutional mechanism created to monitor the impact of policies and interventions by providing an independent evidence-based assessment on what was happening, primarily in schools in the districts but also in the chain of implementing parties of education in provinces and districts. PDOU was within DBE and had to problem-solve (not monitor) to ensure that the value chain worked. NEEDU was a separate entity, which simply assessed what was happening and provided a report. It was semi-autonomous and would grow into being an autonomous entity.

The Chairperson commented that the Committee would appreciate a full report, together with more information on how DBE was monitoring provinces and what was being done with regard to over- and under-spending in provinces.

Mr Soobrayan added that any reports from Members on incidents identified during oversight visits would be welcomed by DBE.

Progress Report on Infrastructure
Infrastructure Budget
Mr Soobrayan said that the total adjusted infrastructure budget of R 9,165 billion consisted of the EIG (the bulk of the grant, administered by DBE but transferred to provinces), as well as the amount the province itself allocated (province’s money) from its own budget to the provincial department on education for infrastructure. This infrastructure grant did not include ASIDI.

Total spending on the infrastructure budget was R 5,905,928 billion, or 64% at the end of 2011. The total infrastructure budget had been adjusted upwards by R 400,374 million during adjustments. The Eastern Cape had an expenditure of only 28% as compared to the expected outcome of 75% at the end of the third quarter. The North West and Northern Cape also reported very low levels of spending at 51% and 56% respectively. Limpopo and Mpumalanga spent above the expected level at 88% and 84% respectively. The reason for the high spend was that they were low to start but were catching up on spending in the current year. DBE monitored and worked closely with Mpumalanga. This was the nature of capital investment in infrastructure. This was not happening in the Eastern Cape due to implementation issues and the issue was of concern to DBE.

Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG)

The total EIG budget was adjusted upwards by R180 million due to the allocation for schools affected by disasters in the 2010/11 financial year. Total spending on the adjusted budget of R5,678,300 billion was R 3,604,065 billion or 63%. The amount allocated was determined by backlogs and infrastructure needs and was linked to the size of the province and was thus not based on what had been provided by the provinces. The largest allocation of R1.2 billion was allocated to KZN.

DBE transferred the final tranche from the EIG to provinces PEDS on the 27th January 2012. Transfer to the Eastern Cape province was withheld due to underspending. DBE had engaged with Eastern Cape to assist with interventions to improve spending.

Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI)
ASIDI was a capital programme with R8.2 billion available from National Treasury to be spent within three years (2011/12 and 2013/14) to eradicate inappropriate structures and basic services backlogs in schools. This would include eradication and replacement of 496 mud schools; provide 1 257 schools with water & sanitation; 868 schools provided with sanitation; and 878 schools provided with electricity.

Contractors have been appointed for the construction of the 49 schools in the Lusikisiki, Libode and Umtata regions - not 50 schools as earlier mentioned, as one school had been removed from the list due to a duplication error. Sites were handed over to contractors on the 12th and 13th January 2012 and the anticipated completion date of the 49 schools was 31st August 2012. The construction value was estimated at R 675million - excluding professional fees
. This was above the expected value of around R400 million, but was due to the tender process and was out of the control of DBE.

DBE could not rely on one implementing agent (DBSA) and planned to use Framework Agreements, which guaranteed delivery success, with the best possible value for money and best possible return for job creation in the communities where the schools were being constructed. The Programme Support Unit involved internal capacity to undertake the work for the remaining ASIDI targets, to assist in project scope clarification and accurate budgeting. Scoping on additional 50 schools had been concluded and additional inappropriate structures would also be implemented in the 2012/13 (50 in the Eastern Cape and 100 from other provinces). All inappropriate schools would be eradicated by 2013/14.

Eradication of the basic services backlog was targeted for 2012/13.
The Mvula TRUST had appointed contractors for provision of water and sanitation to 88 schools in the Eastern Cape and for 78 schools in the Limpopo province, for completion in March 2012. In Kwazulu Natal, 40 water and sanitation projects were handed to contractors in January 2012 and 48 water and sanitation projects were handed to contractors in November 2011. The Free State province was in the process of implementing 38 projects for water, 14 for Sanitation and 31 for Electrification. Seven schools had been identified for the upgrading and provisioning of sanitation in Gauteng and construction at these schools was due for completion at the end of February 2012. Twelve schools per province were targeted for Libraries, Laboratories and an Administration block.

Eskom was appointed implementing agent for the electrification of schools throughout the country. Implementation had commenced and 125 connection projects were planned: 104 schools were in the Eastern Cape, 18 schools in Mpumalanga and three schools in Limpopo.

Discussion

Ms Lovemore asked what the nature of the interventions were with the Eastern Cape with regard to underspending - the reason why the EIG had not been transferred to the Eastern Cape and what success had been derived from the intervention.

Mr Soobrayan said that the Programme Support Unit of DBE was internally created to provide capacity to work with the provinces to monitor their plan. DBE was focused on improving the situation in the Eastern Cape.

Ms Lovemore asked for clarification on the budget for eradication of mud schools in the Eastern Cape and how the eradication of 400 inappropriate structures would be achieved by 2013/14 when there was a target of 50 per year in the past 2 years. This meant that 300 inappropriate structures would need to be eradicated in 2013/14.

Mr Soobrayan replied that the budget amount allocated for the project depended on the market prices. The original amount was R420 million but the pricing for tender escalated and quotes for 50 schools amounted to R1 billion. This was unacceptable but was out of the control of DBE. Through investigation and improved efficiency, R612 million was the amount decided upon. Contractors in the Eastern Cape felt that DBE was discriminating against them.

Ms Tyobeka added that the Framework Agreement would pool all the professionals in the Building Environment Industry so that DBE was not limited to the current implementing agents and to ensure that all schools would be built by the completion date and within budget.

Mr Smiles asked for a correction on the infrastructure budget figure for the Eastern Cape.
Mr Soobrayan replied the typo would be corrected.

Mr Smiles asked how much money had been spent on the ASIDI projects.

Mr Soobrayan replied that DBE would provide the Committee with a full breakdown of all the projects and what had been spent per project.

Ms Tyobeka added that R46 million had been transferred to Eskom for electrification; and transfers to the Mvula Trust were: R4.2 million for the Eastern Cape and R4.7 million for Limpopo. On average the budget on services was 20% of the original figure, which was R280 million for services.

Mr Dikobo commented that there was gross under-spending in the province which had the bulk of inappropriate structures. He asked what the revised catch up strategy was to accelerate delivery and ensure compliance. The Eastern Cape was part of the country and stand-offs were causing the children of the province to suffer.

Mr Soobrayan replied that government was taking the matter very seriously and had strengthened monitoring to accelerate delivery.
 
Mr Dikobo asked how much the professional fee was for the ASIDI programme.

Ms Tyobeka replied that DBSA as implementing agent charged a 5% fee, which was R36 million. Their professional fee, for professionals they appointed, was R71 million, almost 10% of the R675 million on the construction of the 49 schools.

Ms Gina asked who was monitoring the implementation, impact and the value of the millions of rands given to the provinces from the EIG and provinces.

Mr Soobrayan replied that there had been problems with DBE monitoring a multi-million rand project – which it had never done before. It had relied on reports on paper, which were not necessarily accurate and the cost of building the schools continued to increase. The newly formed Programme Support Unit was intended not only for monitoring of ASIDI, but also for the EIG.

Mr Makhubele asked if DBE could confirm that the
49 schools in the Eastern Cape would be completed by the 31st August 2012.

Mr Soobrayan replied that as accounting officer, he confirmed that the 49 schools would be completed by the 31 August 2012.

Ms Gina asked how DBE related to DBSA when it came to accountability for the lack of infrastructure implementation in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Soobrayan said that DBE had contracted DBSA as the implementing agent and DBE would therefore be accountable. DBE had implemented mitigating strategies to ensure legal oversight over DBSA. DBE would also hold DBSA and any other implementing agent accountable.

Ms Gina asked for the breakdown of the 49 schools in the districts of the Eastern Cape.

Ms Tyobeka replied that there were 38 mud schools in Libode, 6 in Lusikisiki and 6 in Umtata districts.

Members were not convinced that DBE could achieve what they promised with building of schools by 2013/14.

Mr Soobrayan agreed that a detailed national plan was required which outlined how DBE planned to deal with challenges. He suggested that the Committee give DBE a date to return to present on the expected scenario going forward.

Mr Solly Mafoko, DBE Director: Infrastructure and Physical Resources Planning, said that in the Eastern Cape, due to lack of reporting and a problem with invoices, there was zero expenditure at the end of the 2011 financial year. DBE intervened and in the last quarter, 120 projects had moved from planning to implementation. With three Build Environments, quantity surveyors and engineers, the capacity had markedly improved. The lack of expenditure in April and May was due to infrastructure plan and the budget not being linked. In addition, DBE and National Treasury had deployed a short-term technical assistant to finalize their infrastructure plan for the next financial year.

The Chairperson concluded that the Committee’s list of difficult questions would be sent to DBE for response. She also asked for a report on the DBE audit on libraries. The Committee also expected a Sector Report.

The meeting was adjourned.


Share this page: