South African Council for Educators Strategic plan 2012

Basic Education

19 March 2012
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South African Council for Educators (SACE) noted that it would be focusing on five key areas in the 2012 financial year. These were the registration of educators, professional development, ethical standards, research, policy and planning, and administration. Expanding upon these, SACE noted that the introduction of an electronic register would speed up registrations. It would be categorised to ensure that specialisation was recognised in the certificates, so that the profession was encouraged to employ educators to teach the subjects in which they had specialised. The Council was ready to roll out the Continuing Professional Teachers’ Development (CPTD) system and monitor its implementation, and this represented a breakthrough for SACE, which had been criticised in the past for focussing too much on the conduct of educators at the expense of its watchdog role in their development. The transformation of teachers holistically was the key to transforming education in the future. Proactive measures, such as road shows and communications, would be implemented to enlighten teachers, learners and the general public, about attitudes, values and ethics in the schooling environment. Research, policy and planning would in future be dealt with under the fully-fledged unit of SACE that provided advice on educator professionalism, and it would need to establish how best to determine the needs of educators. SACE would be moving into a new building in Centurion, which would be officially opened on October 5, World Teachers’ Day.

One of the key functions of SACE was to uphold the image of the teaching profession, and it therefore intended to promote ethical conduct among educators, both within the school environment and outside. There had been 600 complaints of violations of the Code. SACE was continuing to investigate all instances, and institute disciplinary hearings where necessary. However, it was concerned about slow progress, commenting that often the involvement of lawyers led to inordinate delays, but SACE tried, wherever possible, to accommodate requested dates. It took proactive steps in response to both complaints and media reports, and, in answer to a question on this point, advised that already had followed up, on the very next day, an alleged attempt by a teacher in the Eastern Cape to run down the DA leader. In further response to Members’ questions, it noted the need also to update its website to provide comprehensive information on what teacher development programmes were in place, how they were managed, and who was responsible. It was working harmoniously with all three teacher unions, who were providing very good direction in terms of how to go about improving professionalism among their members.

Members asked if SACE would be able to roll out the system to all teachers in 2012, asked about the different figures cited for professional and CPTD development, asked what incentives would be offered to teachers, and how the placement of teachers at private schools would be monitored. The time delays and backlog of disciplinary cases was further explored. Members asked if there were teachers who were not registered, what would be done to register them, how SACE worked with the three teacher unions in regard to professional development, and how it intended to reduce violations of the Code. Questions were asked on the rental figure, whether SACE had capacity to deal with the 400 000 educators, whether there was any screening for prospective teachers, and whether there were overlaps with the Education Labour Relations Council. Further meetings would be arranged to identify and deal with the possible overlaps.

Meeting report

South African Council for Educators Strategic plan 2012
Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer, South African Council of Educators,  outlined the particular focus of the Council (SACE) on certain areas of work during the coming financial year. He set out and explained the five key areas as follows:
Registration of educators would in future be done by using an electronic register, which would reduce the inconvenience of the present paper-based system, allow for on-line registrations and improve the normal registration cycle to seven days. The register would also be categorised to differentiate between the kinds of registration offered, ensuring that specialisation was recognised in the certificates, so that the profession was encouraged to employ educators to teach the subjects in which they had specialised.

Professional development, through the Continuing Professional Teachers’ Development (CPTD) system, now fell under the legal mandate of SACE. A pilot report had been completed and was being circulated for comments, and the implementation plan was in its final stages. The SACE was mindful of the Committee’s concern that there were too many players in this field, and was looking forward to future interaction so that the roles could be clearly defined. It was ready to roll out the programme and monitor its implementation, and would brief the Committee further on how the system worked. This represented a breakthrough for SACE, which had been criticised in the past for focussing too much on the conduct of educators, at the expense of its watchdog role in their development. The transformation of teachers holistically was the key to transforming education in the future.

Ethical standards were being improved, and the case management process had been improved to reduce the backlog. The objective was to ensure that cases were finalised in a three-month cycle, as the SACE met only at three-monthly intervals to make the final decisions. Proactive measures, such as road shows and communications, would be implemented to enlighten teachers, learners and the general public, about attitudes, values and ethics in the schooling environment. This would help to reduce breaches.

Research, policy and planning would in future be dealt with under the fully-fledged unit set up in SACE, whose role would be to provide advice to Government on matters pertaining to educator professionalism. One of its tasks would be to establish how educators’ needs could be determined.

SACE would be moving into a new building in Centurion, which would be officially opened on October 5, World Teachers’ Day.  A proactive communication and outreach strategy to reach all educators would be implemented.

Ms Tsedi Dipholo, Chief Operating Officer, SACE, expanded on some of Mr Brijraj’s opening remarks. She noted that SACE intended to enhance the quality of registration of teachers by introducing standards of entry into the profession. This would involve determining minimum standards and criteria, as these did not exist for students and temporary teachers entering the profession. The objective was to register all teachers who were not yet registered, as this would help to professionalise the sector and enhance the status of the teaching profession.

One of the key functions of SACE was to uphold the image of the teaching profession, and it therefore intended to promote ethical conduct among educators, both within the school environment and outside. The number of violations of the code of conduct for the current year stood at 600 complaints, and SACE would continue to investigate instances of improper conduct and institute disciplinary hearings. It was important for these to be handled as quickly as possible, because the alleged violators were presently allowed to remain at the schools and the learners were therefore in “unsafe hands.” A speedy resolution was not always possible, however, when lawyers became involved and slowed the process down.

Ms Dipholo said the purpose of the CPTD system was to enhance the quality of the practising educators and the development of professional standards, with a view to improving and maintaining the status and image of the teaching profession, and encouraging more and better teachers to join the profession. The baseline number of schools participating in the CTPD management system was 144, and the number of SACE-registered educators signing up on the system was 3 953.

The key function of the Policy and Research Unit was to advise the Ministers of both Basic and Higher Education, as well as the profession, on various professional development matters, to undertake research to inform its advisory role, and to produce policy and research documents for dissemination through various communications channels.

Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Basic Education, provided the Committee with details of the Council’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) projections. Income would increase from R61,9 million in 2013, to R86,8 million in 2015, the largest increase coming from membership fees, from which R2,60 per educator was being reserved for allocation towards the purchase of the Council’s new building by 2015. On the expenditure side, R7,2 million had been budgeted each year to finance the CPTD system, as this was the amount that had been transferred to SACE from the Department of Basic Education this year It was assumed that transfers would remain at that level. The SACE was working on the basis that R10,4 million would be sufficient to deliver the planned CPTD activities.

Mr Mapindani noted that the increase in registration costs would help to update current data, and would enable a projected 32 000 educators to be registered. The intensification of professional development programmes was expected to lead to a reduction in the number of violations of the Code, and this in turn would reduce the cost of handling cases.

Discussion
The Chairperson complimented the Council on its comprehensive presentation, and for receiving an unqualified audit, and hoped that the outstanding issues were being resolved.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) said the report given to Members was filled with spelling and grammatical errors, which was an indictment of an organisation which aimed for excellence in education.

Mr Brijraj apologised to the Committee for what he described as “technical lapses.”

Ms Lovemore said professional development was supposed to be happening currently, but it was virtually impossible to find any information on the subject, with the exception of the Western Cape Education Department and NAPTOSA (Teacher Union) websites. There was no comprehensive information on what development programmes were in place, how they were managed, and who was responsible.

Mr George Bengell, Senior Councillor, SACE, conceded that it would be necessary for SACE to improve its website, and to ensure that it contained the correct information on programmes that were available.

Ms Lovemore said she was pleased to hear the CPTD pilot was in its final stages, and asked whether the SACE was positive that it could roll out the system to all teachers in the 2012-13 period.

Mr Brijraj said SACE was mandated to implement the system for the Department of Education, with whom it was working closely, and the official points system would kick in from 2013.

Ms Lovemore said the budget indicated separate figures for professional development and CPTD, and wanted to know what the difference was.

Mr Mapindani said the figures both applied to professional development, but line items needed to be reported separately, so the budget had been framed accordingly.

Ms Lovemore asked how SACE reacted to breaches of the Code, and whether it took action only if a complaint had been laid with the SACE itself. She said a good example was the attempted running down of the DA leader by a teacher in the Eastern Cape, which was a serious breach of the Code. She enquired what action SACE was taking in this instance.

Mr Bengell said SACE did react proactively and investigate complaints.

Ms Dipholo added that the incident involving criticism of the DA leader had happened on a Friday, and by the following morning, a Saturday, SACE was following up on the matter.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) supported the registration policy of ensuring educators’ areas of specialisation would be indicated, so that teachers were not going to be appointed into positions where these skills would not be used. He asked what incentives would be provided for CPTD to motivate educators to improve themselves.

Mr Brijraj said the practice of pushing, motivating, incentivising and policing teachers needed to be explored, because the Council wanted teachers to police themselves, and to become role models for the future citizens of the country. In this way, they would feel intrinsically rewarded, rather than seeking financial rewards.

The Chairperson asked how SACE intended to monitor the placement of teachers in private schools.

Mr Brijraj said it would be SACE’s role to register all teachers in the private education sector, but it would need more monitoring capacity to achieve this.

The Chairperson referred to the 600 code violations in the past year, and the fact that one case was reported to have dragged on for two years, owing to the involvement of lawyers. She asked what measures SACE was taking to eliminate this problem.

Ms Dipholo admitted that there would always be backlogs, mainly because of the need to accommodate the dates available to lawyers representing those involved. SACE was trying to show its councillors the negative side of allowing lawyers to participate in disciplinary hearings.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked if there were teachers who were not registered.

Mr Mapindani said there were unregistered teachers, but those were being traced and asked to provide the information necessary for them to become registered.

Ms Dipholo added that unqualified teachers were being registered conditionally, with the provision that they must complete their qualifications. However, all teachers needed to be aware that they had to be registered, whether they were holding temporary or permanent appointments.

Ms Mushwana asked whether it was possible for SACE to play a unifying role among the three teacher unions, to eliminate obstacles to professional development programmes.

Mr Brijraj said SACE regarded all unions as one, and respected them equally. A harmonious relationship existed with the unions and the Council worked closely with them. As a result, the unions had been giving very good direction on how to improve professionalism among their members.

Mr A Mpontshane (ANC) said the rent for the new building appeared to be very high, and asked why SACE was prepared to accept this level.

Mr Brijraj said the agreement that was signed was a “rent-to-buy” arrangement, and the Council expected to have sufficient funds for an outright purchase in three years’ time. The rent would continue to rise until the purchase took place.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked how SACE expected the number of violations to decrease.

Ms Dipholo said the objective was to seek the support of the unions, with a view to establishing a partnership between them, the Department of Education and SACE, so that the concept of professionalism could be promoted in a spirit of cooperation.

Mr W Madisha (COPE) expressed concern that SACE lacked the human and capital resources to deal with the country’s estimated 400 000 educators, as well as its capacity to access and monitor private schools, particularly as many children (in the Eastern Cape) were moving from public to private schools.

Ms N Gina (ANC) said that in providing a professional development system, SACE needed to “conscientise” teachers so that they went to school in the knowledge that their learners were the future of the country.

Ms Lovemore said that in some countries, school leavers who expressed a desire to become teachers were screened, to ensure that they cared about teaching and that they were not intending to “merely do a job”. She asked whether a similar process had been considered for this country.

Mr Bengell said that screening should be the responsibility of the Department of Basic Education, but felt that the issue should be discussed to see whether SACE could play a role in the process.

The Chairperson said the Council still faced unresolved challenges, such as the disciplinary case backlog, cash flow problems, the authenticity of registration data, unqualified teachers, and the completion of the pilot CPTD system.

Mr Brijraj said the fundamental question to be asked was what SACE was doing which would make teachers professional.  This was not an exact science, but rather an art, and the results were not easily measurable. However, SACE had objectivised the process into three dimensions. Firstly, teachers must be registered and display minimum standards of entry. Secondly, they should become lifelong learners, as a mark of the profession. Finally, they should not violate the code of ethics. He endorsed Ms Gina’s use of the word “conscientise” in the context of encouraging educators to become good teachers, and said statistics indicated that teachers were, in fact, becoming more professional. He conceded, however, that there was some overlap in the activities of the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) and SACE, who were both involved in teacher development.

The Chairperson said a meeting would be held with the Department of Education and the ELRC to try to eliminate these areas of overlap.

The meeting was adjourned.

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