The Department of Basic Education (DBE) continued to present its Annual Performance Plans for 2012, and its budget, and the Committee noted that reports were required on matters previously mentioned as well as some outstanding issues from this meeting. DBE outlined its five programmes, and made reference not only to the short term goals for the current year, but also to the longer term plans up to 2025. The DBE noted that some provinces had problems of over-spending, excess teachers, and problems in the audits, and that it aimed to assist the provinces with these matters. In relation to the curriculum, it was reported that although the participation rate had improved for maths, science and technology, there remained a challenge that the efforts and investments were not equal to the outputs and outcomes. The Minister of Basic Education had recommended a new design and involvement of more partners that would help improve in this area. Delivery of school books would continue, and the DBE aimed to assist in delivery of books to school libraries, although this was not its sole responsibility. It was providing materials to learners with disabilities. Quality teaching and institutional performance was the focus of Programme 3, and DBE aimed to have an effective supply and development of human resources. DBE was working closely with teacher unions to improve the key areas in the curriculum dealing with training of educators, and was working with School Governing Bodies to strengthen the governance of schools, and had also called for public comment on how to align the rules and responsibilities. It called upon parents to assist in monitoring learner performance. Annual National Assessments would be done in this year and reports produced by December. Programme 5 concentrated on providing safe teaching and learning environments, improving learner retention in schools, increasing the number of schools involved in extra-curricular activities, and offering health services. Screening would focus on grades 1, 4, 8 and 10.
Members asked why some targets that had been included in previous reports were not carried over into these plans, particularly the court cases, and wondered what “inclusive education” would comprise, and how it was to be monitored. They asked why some Grade R teachers were receiving only a stipend, what implementation programmes were in place for schools management, what were the required levels for numeracy and literacy, and the debates on sign language teaching. Members also noted that DVDs were to be provided to support multigrade schools but noted that several schools were still without electricity, called for more detail on the sexual reproduction health programme, asked about institutional development and placement of educators, how assessments were conducted, and how the DBE assisted the provinces with audits. Members also asked about the DBE’s international relations, office space, and called for curbing of wasteful expenditure, and attention to closure of farm schools. Other questions related to filling of vacancies, training and payment of sports teachers and arrangements for sports facilities, public participation in education plans, the temporary teacher problems, and engagement of NGOs. A further meeting was to be arranged to discuss outstanding items.
Department of Basic Education Annual Performance Plan and budget 2012
The Chairperson noted that this was the second meeting dealing with the annual plans and budget of the Department of Basic Education (DBE or the Department) and noted that since there was to be some interrogation on the budget, more reports were needed on the overview by the Deputy Minister, additional growth programme, Action plan 2014 to 2025, a report on the Summit on Teacher Learning, reports on teacher demand and supply, and a report on human resource development. She asked that the presenters then make short presentations.
Dr Linda Chisholm, Special Advisor, Ministry of Basic Education, noted that the presentations would deal with the Action Plan for 2012/2013, as well as the long term plan for education from 2014 to 2025. The Strategic and Annual Performance plans reflected the commitment of the Department to undertake activities effectively and on time, in order to produce agreed-upon outputs that would, in turn, contribute to achieving the long term Action Plan 2014.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, Director General, DBE, outlined that Programme 1 supported all other programmes, and worked with the Offices of the Minister and Director General. Support services included the financial directorate, the human resource directorate, the training directorate and labour relations directorates, procurement, information technology, and the two chief directorates for strategic planning and communications. This programme had 650 staff. This programme also tried to assist with financial matters of the provinces, and audit reports. Two provincial departments had been over-spending, and there were a number of excess teachers.
Mr Mathazima Mweli, Deputy Director General, DBE, outlined Programme 2: Curriculum policy, support and monitoring. This programme worked on improving learner outcomes, improving development of education, and supporting multigrade schools by developing DVDs and materials in hard copy. The curriculum remained the focus of this programme. Although the participation rate had improved for maths, science and technology, there was still a challenge that the efforts and investments were not equal to the output and outcome. The Minister of Basic Education had recommended a new design and involvement of more partners that would help improve in this area. He indicated that in 2011, 24 million books were delivered to grades 10,11, and 12, and this would continue. The DBE also aimed to assist in delivering books to school libraries, although this could not be done by this departments alone. Full delivery of the curriculum, in a high quality way, remained a challenge. DBE was looking forward to working together with other departments, including Department of Higher Education and Training and Social Development, to perform better. He indicated that the DBE was also involved in providing materials to learners with disabilities, and on the project to develop sign language as a subject and as an official language. A draft was produced to ensure that learners with disabilities who were not able to participate in activities up to grade 12 were also accommodated up to grade 9, and certificates were provided.
Mr Kojana Themba, Acting Deputy Director General, DBE, presented Programme 3: Teachers, Education human resources and Institutional development. The purpose of this programme was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. He outlined the sub-programmes (see attached presentation). The DBE was working closely with teacher unions to improve the key areas in the curriculum dealing with training of educators. DBE had achieved more than 64% of its goals in teacher training. It was working with School Governing Bodies (SGBs) to strengthen the governance of schools, and had also called for public comment on how to align the rules and responsibilities, with a view to drafting policy. This programme also focused on teacher supply and demand. The National Treasury would look into the issue of ghost teachers. A business intelligence programme would look into any deviation in teacher programmes and matters concerning teacher profiles. Parents would be called upon to participate in monitoring learner performance and engage in what was being done.
Mr Carmen Van Wyk, representative, DBE, presented on Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment. He noted that this branch was responsible for the administration of the Annual National Assessment (ANA). The learners’ results would also be captured and the tests marked in different provinces, and a sample would be taken from each district to be compiled into a report in December. This unit was also responsible for the country’s involvement in international tests. It furthermore dealt with the exams, and supplementary exams. School funding was another responsibility of this branch, along with budget monitoring and support, so the unit would be trying to identify which areas needed to get more funding. It also managed the grants given to provinces for school infrastructure, particularly in the Eastern Cape. Yet another responsibility related to information management systems and provision of credible statistics collected from the annual school surveys.
Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services, aimed to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. It was explained that the programme looked at the learning environment, and aimed to provide safe teaching and learning environments, improve learner retention in schools, and increase the number of schools involved in extra-curricular activities. This also aimed to provide a comprehensive health service for children, including eye testing, deworming, immunisation, and to ensure that non-government organisations (NGOs) supported the programmes. Screening for 2012/13 would be focusing on grades 1, 4, 8 and 10, the latter because of the large numbers of drop-outs at this stage. Learners would help identify what they lacked in terms of health. Other programmes includes educator wellness programmes, in conjunction with partners, safety programmes in conjunction with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and improvement of physical education teaching and support.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) asked about a number of targets that were included in last year’s report, but were not referred to in this year’s report – these included the court cases, the lack of mention of any action to reduce the number of cases lodged against the DBE, and the percentage of queries successfully resolved.
Mr Anton Schoeman, Deputy Director General, DBE, said that there were many court cases, which were handled within the provinces, but a database had now been created by DBE to manage all the cases, and follow up on them. A structure was created within the Department to assist with administration issues in provinces, like human resources matters, procurement matters and a legal services portion would be added so as to identify and assist with these problems.
Ms Lovemore asked what was included in “inclusive education”.
Mr Mweli said that the plan for inclusive education had been included in the plan for 2013-2014 and in details could be found on page 30 of the power point presentation. He also noted that much was not being done at present, but the DBE would be working on this within the year. The Department was doing its best to include this within the school curriculum.
Ms Lovemore noted that Grade R teachers had been highlighted as important, yet at present many were receiving only a stipend and not a proper salary. She wondered when the DBE would take action on this
Ms Lovemore noted that there were no implementation programmes mentioned on school management.
Ms Lovemore asked what was the required literacy level and numeracy level in schools.
Mr Mweli explained said that the required level of achievement, on a scale of one to seven, was three for both the numeracy and literacy level.
Mr Anton Schoeman added that there would be debates as to whether sign language would be regarded as an official language, if it was successfully included in the curriculum.
Ms N Gina (ANC) asked for more detail on principals and deputy principals and management of schools and district support. She also asked what would be done to support those multigrade schools, without electricity, noting that DVDs were supposed to be run.
Mr Mweli said that where there was no electricity for multigrade schools, DBE would use other options, but that the Minister was very adamant on the provision of DVDs to schools.
Ms Gina thought that more focus should be placed on the teenage sexual reproduction programme.
A Department representative said that more detail would be provided on the sexual reproduction health programme.
Mr W Madisha (COPE) noted that there was a problem with institutional development of educators in South Africa. Many programmes had been developed, but were not being run, and he asked whether was the Department had been able to identify where these educators would go. He also asked what assessment policies were in place.
Mr Mweli answered that the assessment would be based on teaching in the classroom.
Mr Kojana noted that there was a programme to help in training of educators was run last year, but that the long term needs were around supply and demand. Where there was a particular need for an educator, that need would be met, through a programme that would profile the teachers, and identify where there were needs to be filled.
Mr K Dikobo (AZAPO) noted the mention of assisting provinces with audit reports and asked for details.
Ms Vivienne Carelse, DBE, said that the reports were collected and compiled on a regular basis and there was a plan each year to address the listed problems. Meetings were arranged on a monthly basis.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) asked about the DBE’s international relations.
Mr Anton Schoeman said that there were agreements made with the European Union concerning the primary education sector, a programme between Germany and South Africa, for bi lingual secondary school certificates, and one with the United States of America for increased education and training.
Ms Malgas noted that in the past there was a substantial amount of wasteful expenditure, and this trend must be curbed. She also said that the closure of farm schools needed to be dealt with by the Department.
Mr M Mpontshane (IFP) asked about the office space, and wondered what could be done to provide more space, and whether Head Office was likely to take on another building.
Mr Schoeman said that no request had been filed yet by the provinces.
Mr Mpontshane asked how the DBE would allocate marks for practical training in a school where there was no infrastructure to cater for such training. He also wondered what would happen in schools when sports became a serious venture, and whether sports teachers would be paid.
Mr M Mweli said that infrastructure would be looked into in order to cater for such training.
Mr M Makhubele (ANC) asked when vacancies for strategic positions would be filled, calling for assurances that the DBE was taking the matter seriously. He also noted that the Department needed to elaborate on what it had been able to do in the previous years and where it was today.
Mr Schoeman said that there were only two posts not filled at the moment, and that two vacancies for Chief Directors had been advertised and would be filled shortly.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked to what degree there had been public participation in the education plans, and, if this had not happened, how the DBE would ensure such participation.
Ms Dudley asked if there were special plans for teachers in Physical Education.
Mr D Smiles (DA) asked how the DBE would cooperate with local government in providing good facilities for sports
Ms Dudley called for more detail on the aims of the mobile teaching units.
Mr D Smiles (DA) asked noted that the problems of temporary teachers had to be addressed.
Mr Smiles asked how the NGOs would be engaged to assist schools, especially in Mathematics education.
Mr M Mweli said that the Department had provided a strategy for mathematics education and that the DBE looked forward to inviting the NGOs to such a meeting.
The Chairperson said that another date would be scheduled for the Department to provide the necessary details requested.
Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director General, DBE, said that the delivery services that were reporting back directly to the Minister would not have a problem, as they were meant to address many of the challenges facing transport in the education sector.
The meeting was adjourned.
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