Human Resources Development Council Role, Deputy Minister & Department Higher Education and Training on 2010 Annual Report

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

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

The Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (the Council) briefed the Committee on its role in driving the agenda to deliver competent Human Resources for South Africa by 2030. The Council had been established to increase responsiveness of education and training to the social and economic development agenda. It also sought to address quality issues in education and the skills development pipeline, also addressing skills shortages in priority areas. The Human Resource strategy was in alignment with other national policies and legislation, and was also aimed at reducing poverty, inequalities and unemployment, as well as creating an enabling environment for socio-economic growth and development, ensuring the promotion of justice, social cohesion and the improvement of the country’s Human Development Index. An outline of the governance structure of the Council, and key engagements with other departments, were outlined. Major achievements were named as the launching and development of the Human Resources Development Strategy, establishment and work of nine Technical Task Teams and Technical Working Group, the Monitoring and Evaluation framework, and its marketing and communication strategy. A Secretariat and Provincial Coordination Forum were set up.

Members asked in which Provinces the Councils had been established, and requested details of the marketing strategy, the role in promoting skills development and the relationship between the Council and the Provincial Forums. They also asked about the institutionalisation of local languages in skills assessments and the challenges that hindered the Council from accomplishing its aims. They asked if the Department of Higher Education and Training was doing anything to promote more awareness of non-accredited Further Education Training colleges. Members expressed concern at maladministration reported in some colleges, and at the vacancy rate. They wanted to know about any challenges with implementation of grades 1 to 3 reforms, engagements with doctors, nurses and engineers and ways in which the skills gap would be addressed, as also whether the Council was independent of the Departments of Education.

The Department of Higher Education and training (DHET) then presented its Annual Report 2010/11, outlining the major achievements in its five programmes, and noting the reasons for deviations from the targets, particularly in regard to the underspending across several programmes. Overall, the department had achieved 99% spending. The DHET then went into some detail about the findings of the Auditor-General. There was uncertainty, as reflected in Note 19 to the financial statements, about the outcome of several law suits against the DHET, which it was defending. There had been irregular expenditure of R4 million due to non-compliance with supply chain management processes. In regard to performance, the DHET had provided inadequate explanations to the Auditor-General for major variances between the planned and achieved targets for the programmes relating to Universities, Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, and Skills Development and the performance information reported was not consistent or measurable. The DHET then outlined what it had done to address the findings, and noted that four separate action plans were prepared, each with
predetermined objectives, departmental operations, and IT Audit and National Skills Fund Audit, all of which were being monitored monthly. Reports would also be submitted to the Audit Committee.

Members enquired about the time frames for the completion of the new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape, implementation of the Teacher Education and Development programme, the findings of the Ministerial study on racism in Universities and information about the central application process. They also asked if DHET had an organogram, the financial and logistical implications of the Head of Education Committee (HEDCOM) subcommittees and the reasons for the use of several consultants, particularly since the DHET appeared to have skills in-house.  Members asked about the apparent overlapping of roles between DHET and Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). They were concerned about the irregular spending and lack of detail in presenting the Annual Report. They wanted an update on the disciplinary cases against officials implicated in the irregular expenditure, and the cost implications of the cases against the departmen

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Higher Education.

Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDCSA): Role in driving the delivery of a competent Human Resources base for South Africa by 2030
Ms Brenda Ntombela, Head: Secretariat, Human Resources Development Council of South Africa, stated that the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDCSA or the Council) was established in order to
increase responsiveness of training and education to the social and economic development agenda. It also sought to address quality issues in education, and addressed skills shortages in priority areas and the skills development pipeline. HRDCSA also aimed to establish institutional mechanisms for coordination, integration, coherence, accountability and reporting within the educational system, and optimising efficacy and outcomes of the development agenda. The Human Resource (HR) strategy was aligned to policies and legislation such as the New Growth Path (NGP), National Industrial Policy Framework, Anti-Poverty Strategy for Public Sector, immigration policies and education policies. It was aimed at reducing poverty, inequalities and unemployment, and hoped to create an enabling environment for socio-economic growth and development in South Africa, and ensure the promotion of justice, social cohesion and the improvement of the country’s Human Development Index.

The Council had a secretariat, which was overseen by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The Council itself,
managed and chaired by the Deputy President, consisted of relevant Cabinet Ministers, senior leaders from organised business, organised labour, community, and research institutions. A HRD Technical Working Group and the Technical Task Teams reported to council. The Technical Task Team was subdivided into constituents dealing with foundational learning, artisan development, Further Education and Training Colleges (FETs), production of academics and industry partnerships, production of professionals, education and entrepreneurship, worker education, and a review of the skills development institutional landscape. There was also a Human Resource Development (HRD) provincial Forum.  Finally was the HRD Provincial Forum.

The Council’s key engagements with various departments were outlined. It worked on developing the strategy and action plan annual assessments with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). It had undertaken a maritime skills study with the
South African Maritime Safety Authority. The Thuthuka model aimed to develop black chartered accountants, in partnership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. An Integrated Teacher Development Strategy was run with the Department of Higher Education and Training. HRDCSA had launched, through Google, the Woza Online for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME). It ran a Strategy and Action with the Department of Science and Technology.

Some of the major achievements were listed as including the
launching and development of the Human Resources Development Strategy, the setting up of nine Technical Task Teams and the Technical Working Group, the preparation of the monitoring and evaluation framework, and its marketing and communication strategy. The creation of the Secretariat and Provincial Coordination Forum were other achievements.

Mr S Plaatjie (COPE, North West) asked how the issue of skills development could be addressed in South Africa.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) asked how the Council was assisting other departments in skills development.

The Deputy Minister replied that the background to the question could be found in Cabinet’s decision to have a HRD strategy, and this was a long-term vision including all stakeholders, such as the Departments of Labour and Home Affairs, not only DHET. The HRDCSA governance structure created a platform for involvement of all stakeholders, which would include Cabinet ministers, senior leaders from organised business and organised labour, the community,
research institutions and relevant experts.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) asked for the list of Provinces in which the Councils had been established.

Ms Ntombela listed Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal.

Ms Mncube asked if the Council had a marketing strategy to promote awareness of the skills development programmes in place.

Ms Ntombela replied that the Secretariat was responsible for the establishment of a strategy.

Ms Mncube asked whether there was progress to ensure that local languages were used in the skills assessment programmes provided by the various service providers.

Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director General, Department of Higher Education and Training, replied that work was being done to institute the local languages as languages of instruction in science and academia, after DHET had identified this need. A panel had been set up to take the matter further.  In previous years, funding was not given for developing African languages, although the current funding review would look at this.

Ms Mncube asked about the role and participation of industry in ensuring that more skills were developed through initiatives such as the provision of bursaries and provision of internship programmes for FET institutes.

Ms Ntombela replied that the Council, through the Technical Task Teams, encouraged the involvement of industry.

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) commented that an audit of the current grade 12 students should be done and allied to another on the available places at universities and FETs, to avoid situations like the recent rampage at the University of Johannesburg.

Ms Rasmeni asked what DHET was doing to sensitise the public of non accredited private FET colleges.

Ms Rasmeni asked for a list of FET colleges and Universities which were experiencing problems. She asked what the DHET had done to try to solve the issues, and the extent to which its recommendations had been implemented.

Mr Qonde replied that some inconsistencies and maladministration had been identified in studies initiated by various boards, including HRDCSA. These revealed distinct weaknesses in management and governance at some FET colleges, so DHET had developed four work streams, dealing with  financial and management planning and capacity building, curriculum development and monitoring, research development in the sector (specifically relating to programmes offered within the FET colleges), and college industry partnerships. These partnerships had to led to an accord between business and labour for the placement of 12 000 graduates annually. In addition initiatives were developed for industries to “adopt a college” to give business exposure to both the lecturers and students. These initiatives were already bearing fruit and improving the quality of programmes offered.

Ms Mncube asked what was being done to address the issue of the high vacancy rate.

Ms Nomawethu Mjajubana, Acting Deputy Director General, Department of Higher Education and Training, said that the vacancy rate had been reduced by 13%. The DHET was head-hunting for two Deputy Director General posts, but there were some problems in attracting suitable individuals, given the lower government salaries.

Mr M de Villiers (DA, Western Cape) noted that the Technical Task Team acted as an advisory board to the Deputy President, and asked who was responsible for monitoring and overseeing the Task Team’s activities.

Ms Ntombela replied that a monitoring and evaluation strategy had been put in place, and this would be guided by the five point work plan. She reiterated that the plan was guided by the principles of giving strength and support to FET Colleges to expand access, to aid in production of intermediate skills (artisans in particular) and professionals, to produce academics and stronger industry-educational institute partnerships in research and development, and a concentration on foundational learning and worker education.

Mr Plaatjie asked how HRDCSA related to other skills development organisations.

Another Member asked if there were overlaps between the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), HRDCSA and Umalusi.

Mr Qonde replied that DHET was looking into the matter, and any overlaps would be managed through a forum that was overseen by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). QCTO was still at the developmental stage and therefore DHET could not relegate all responsibilities immediately to it, but would have to allow for a gradual and responsible handover, to allow it to build its capacity over time.

Mr de Villiers asked about any particular problems making reforms in Basic Education, for grades 1-3.

The Deputy Minister replied that a task team had been put in place to assess what measures could be put in place.

Mr de Villiers asked what DHET was doing to engage with doctors, nurses and engineers.

The Deputy Minister noted that a Technical Task Team had been put in place to deliberate on this issue. The Health Science Review Committee had come up with recommendations on the Health Professions Training and Development Grant.

Mr Mashamaite asked if the Council conducted the training or identified service providers, and how DHET would ensure the quality of any training.

Mr Qonde replied that a number of quality assurance bodies were in place, such as SAQA and Statutory Councils, and DHET and Umalusi monitored and evaluated the FET colleges.

Mr Plaatjie asked if the Council was independent from the DHET.

Ms Ntombela replied that the Council was “housed” in DHET, and that the administrative work was done by DHET but it was not a DHET-run Council

The Chairperson asked what funds the Council required, considering that it was an advisory rather than an implementation body.

Ms Ntombela replied that the Council required funding for its Technical Task Teams. She emphasised that the Council was not responsible for actually implementing the strategy, it provided a
platform where social partners engaged to reach solutions to address bottlenecks in the development of human resources in South Africa. The Council was looking to fill the vacancy of Fund Manager, and would require funding for that

The Chairperson commented that DHET should encourage all stakeholders to have centres of excellence.

Department of Higher Education and Training Annual Report 2010/11:
Mr Qonde stated that this Annual Report was the first after the Department of Higher Education and Training was established on 1 April 2010. It included a message from the Minister and Deputy Minister, and information on the DHET. The Annual Report also included information on predetermined objectives, highlighting key strategic objectives and achievements for the 2010/11 financial year. While the greatest emphasis was on DHET, the Report also included statements on the QCTO, the former Department of Education and the National Skills Fund (NSF). It was hoped that the outstanding funds processes would be resolved by 31 December 2012. There were also reports Human Resources Management.

Ms Lulama Mbobo, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, Department of Higher Education and Training, outlined the key strategic objectives and achievements of Programme 1: Administration, noting that these appeared on pages 31 to 61 of the Annual Report. The focus of the newly established DHET in 2010 was to put
the necessary administrative systems, policies and procedures into place and provide core capacity for the smooth running of the Department. One particular focal area was the filling of critical senior management positions at Deputy Director-General and Chief Director levels. The DHET also had to develop internal policies with respect to human resources, finance, supply chain, communications and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Nine human resource policies were finally adopted and approved in April 2011. These included policies on affirmative action, remunerative work done outside public service, employment equity, job evaluation, subsistence and travel claims and overseas trips, leave, resettlement expenditure and  remunerative overtime duty. Two posts of Deputy Directors-General (DDG) for Corporate Services and Skills Development were filled in 2010, with the two other DDG posts still to be filled.

The challenges included the non-availability of managers for the interviewing process, which meant that interviews were conducted over weekends. Because DHET had not yet finalised its organisational structure in 2010/11, there was a relatively high vacancy rate.

Mr Firoz Patel, Deputy Director General: Planning, Department of Higher Education and Training, outlined Programme 2: Human
Resource Development, Planning and Monitoring Coordination. The DHET had achieved its major objective to established the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa (HRDCSA). Notable achievements, under International Relations, included the participation and contribution of DHET to meetings of the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), as well as structured bilateral meetings with a number of other African countries. DHET also participated in the 4th IBSA Summit in Brazil, during which academics from the three countries participated in the IBSA Academic Forum, and a higher education conference with the European Union in Cape Town.

The Legal and Legislative Services division had given l
egal advice on the impact of Section 29 of the Constitution on skills development. It had dealt with the Memorandum of Understanding with Higher Education South Africa (HESA) concerning the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Academic Forum. In addition it had attended to amendments of the Further Education and Training Colleges Bill 2011, whilst the Higher Education Laws Bill, 2011 and the Skills Development Bill, 2011 were drafted for comments.

Ms Diane Parker, Acting Deputy Director General: University Education, Department of Higher Education, set out the achievements of Programme 3: University Education. The key achievements in academic planning and management included the compilation of
a national enrolment plan, in line with government priorities and growth possibilities within the university sector, and the proposed Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations. This unit had also completed the Programme Qualification Mix grid, which was currently being populated with the new approved Higher Education Qualification Framework (HEQF) programmes of each institution.

The Heath
Science Review Committee had made recommendations on the Health Professions Training and Development Grant, and the Minister approved the appointment of the Committee for the Review of the Funding Framework.  Audited student and staff data for 2009 from all universities was submitted and captured into the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) database.

Achievements in policy and development included the approval and gazetting of
university statutes. Submissions from institutions in response to Ministerial Committee Report on Racism in Higher Education were analysed. A report on the Language Summit of October 2010 was drawn, with a list of recommendations on the development of indigenous languages at universities.

Achievements in te
acher education and development included the establishment of a long term Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development for South Africa, covering 2011 to 2025. A draft policy on the Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications, which was aligned with the HEQC, was drawn for comments.

Mr Patel then outlined Programme 4: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training. Key achievements included the development of manuals and guidelines for implementing Generally Accepted Accounting Practices in colleges, and the implementation of funding norms for FET Colleges. DHET processed a total of 954 (89%) out of 1071 applications for private FET college registration. Three new vocational programmes were introduced. The quality of curriculum delivery in colleges was strengthened through the addition of 54 titles to the catalogue of student textbooks for National Certificate (Vocational) (NCV) qualifications. 698 581 candidates were registered for national FET examinations. DHET also set and moderated 1 619 question papers and 73 site-based assessment tasks.

Ms Nomawethu Mjajubana, Acting Deputy Director General, Department of Higher Education and Training outlined Programme 5: Skills Development. DHET had ensured that all 23 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) implemented their approved 2010/11 Service Level Agreements and submitted their quarterly reports on implementation and achievement of the agreed objectives and targets. The Minister approved and published the new SETA landscape that was implemented on 1 April 2011. A standard Constitution for all SETAs was introduced, and this ensured consistency and alignment with regard to the functioning of SETAs. The National Skills Development Strategy III (NSDS) was launched to guide the work of the SETAs and direct the use of the National Skills Fund.

DHET, under the umbrella of the National Skills Authority Secretariat, had held public consultations to discuss the National Skills Development Strategy III and the new SETA landscape. It also informed constituencies about NSDS III and conducted advocacy campaigns to enable meaningful implementation. NSF administration caps were raised from 2% to 10%, the lifespan of SETAs was extended, and poorly- performing SETAs were placed under administration.

Mr Patel outlined the achievements of the Institute for the National Development of Learnerships, Employment Skills and Labour Assessments (INDLELA), noting the launch of the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) on 30 November 2010. Partnership forums were established for artisan development, including the Artisan Development Technical Task Team which reported to the Human Resource Development Council and a Public FET College Artisan Development Forum. 7 484 candidates were assessed, showing a pass rate of 41%,  across a range of trades.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Higher Education and Training, outlined the financial report. He firstly explained areas of underspending. R3.7 million of the budget for Administration was not spent, due to delays in the
signing of a service level agreement between the Department and State Information Technology Agency. R864 000 was not spent for planning and monitoring, partially because vacant posts were not filled as projected, resulting in savings in goods and services. The University Education programme underspent by R1.87 million, because of the delay in the appointment of the Ministerial Task Teams for the establishment of the new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, and because the review of Medunsa at University in Limpopo started later than planned. Overall, DHET had spent 99.9% of its allocated funding, and he outlined the spending trends by economic classification.

Mr Tredoux then noted that DHET had received
an unqualified audit opinion. However, some matters of emphasis were raised by the Auditor-General (AG), including significant uncertainties, as disclosed in note 19 of the financial statements, about various law suits laid against the DHET, which it was defending, and where the outcome was not yet known. Another matter related to irregular expenditure of R4.023 million, due to non-compliance with supply chain management processes. In regard to performance, the AG noted that DHET had given inadequate explanations for major variances between the planned and the actual reported targets for the programmes relating to Universities, Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, and Skills Development. The reported performance information was deficient in respect of consistency and measurability.

Mr Tredoux summarised the
action plans for these findings, noting that plans had been drawn to address all matters raised, as well as other matters that resulted in audit queries. Four separate plans had been prepared, for predetermined objectives, Departmental operations, IT Audit and NSF Audit, and were being monitored on a monthly basis. Reports would be submitted to the Audit Committee.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) asked for the completion dates of the new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.

Ms Parker replied that both processes were moving simultaneously. A Task Team had submitted its report to the Minister in September 2011, and this had been used to develop a specific implementation strategy. By July 2012, DHET would have details of the full development plan, including the seat of learning, and would have put in place all legal requirements for a full academic and campus plan. Over the next six months it would be doing economic and environmental impact assessments of the possible locations, and construction of the buildings would begin in the 2013/14 financial year. DHET was working on offering parallel programmes – for instance, in Mpumalanga it envisaged that teacher education programme would be linked to the formed INdebele College of Education, which would be incorporated into the new campus. A steering committee had been set up to involve various stakeholders. DHET was not working with the Department of Public Works but was utilising the skills developed from the infrastructure programmes at the local universities.

Mr Plaatjie asked whether the central application process would apply to all universities and college.

Ms Parker replied that the service could initially target the 23 universities and could extend to FET later, and it was hoped that it would be fully functional in 2014.

The Chairperson and Ms Rasmeni noted that the presentation did not cover the challenges in the governance structure that may have stalled progress.

Mr Qonde replied that the report did not focus on challenges that had not deterred the achievement of DHET’s aims, since the normal format of reporting only outlined challenges that had not been addressed and therefore required further action.

Mr Plaatjie asked about the key findings of the Ministerial Study on Racism.

Mr Qonde replied that the study revealed that the system contained “pockets” of racism and lack of transformation, but did not identify any particular universities as having distinct racism trends. Various programmes and policies had to be put in place to resolve the issues. It was essential to avoid distortions on the issues, as in some cases individuals had mistakenly perceived a genuine lack or resources as being motivated by racism.

Mr Mashamaite and Ms Mncube asked an explanation of the R4 million irregular expenditures.

Mr Qonde replied that the irregularities were linked to the fact that INDLELA had formerly fallen under the Department of Labour, and when it was transferred to DHET, the latter picked up some anomalies, and conducted an investigation with legal enforcement agents, which then resulted in some criminal charges being laid. In addition, stern disciplinary measures had been taken against individuals implicated.

Ms Mjajubana reiterated that centralisation of the supply chain management to Head Office from INDLELA had now taken place, to ensure greater accountability.

Mr Mashamaite asked for the time frame for the implementation of the Teacher Education and Development for South Africa (2011-25) plan.

Ms Parker replied that the minimum requirements for Teacher Education had already been published and were being implemented. All colleges were reviewing their curriculum, and this would be evaluated once submitted.

Mr de Villiers asked if the DHET had an organogram.

Ms Mjajubana replied that DHET had finalised its organogram and it had been submitted to Minister of Public Service and Administation for authorisation.

Ms Mashed inquired about the logistic and financial implications of HEDCOM.

Mr Patel replied that the HEDCOM subcommittees were developed in terms of the National Policy Act and FET Act. The subcommittee met four times a year, at a cost of about R10 000 per meeting, but this had been budgeted for.

The Chairperson asked why DHET used consultants eleven times in the year.

Mr Qonde replied that DHET used consultants in areas of specialisation, and where their special skills were needed for a short period of time. In the majority of the cases DHET received value for its money.

The Chairperson commented that in the next presentation the Department had to give more details. The use of so many consultants was of concern, because the DHET already had individuals with some of the relevant skills who would therefore seem to be under-utilised.

The Chairperson also asked for an update on the cases in which some of the staff members implicated in the R4 million irregular expenditure had lodged an appeal, and the cost implications of these appeals to DHET.

The meeting was adjourned.


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