Department of Basic Education (DBE) 2012 Budget Vote and Strategic Plan briefing

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

16 May 2012
Chairperson: Ms MW Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education briefed the Committee on its 2012/13 Annual Performance Plan [Strategic Plan] and Budget Review. The report was in four parts - Overview of the Department’s 2012/13 Strategic Priorities and Interventions, 2012/13 Sector Milestones (Action Plan to 2014), Detailed Presentation on Performance Indicators and Targets, and an Overview of the Budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The 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 Department also highlighted some of the initiatives it had taken to improve learner performance in the country especially in science and maths. 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 and science, the Department was considering organising a maths and science summit to see what could be done to improve the pass rate of maths and science in schools. The Minister of Basic Education had recommended a new design and involvement of more partners that would help improve in this area. Delivery of schoolbooks 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. The Department emphasised the need for school principals to be accountable to make sure that standards were maintained and that the teacher learner ratio was within the stipulated limits. 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.

The Department’s expenditure increased from R6.4 billion in 2008/09 to R14.1 billion in 2011/12 and was expected to continue growing over the medium term to reach R21.4 billion in 2014/15.
The budget provided additional allocations over the MTEF period of R149.6 million in 2012/13, R322.1 million in 2013/14 and R257.5 million in 2014/15 for priority areas.

Members asked why there were still some buildings in some schools unfinished since 1994 and wondered if there was any plan to make sure that those buildings were completed. The Committee asked why there was a continuous shortage of textbooks in schools and what the Department was doing to address the issue of learner transport in some areas. Members noted that transport was a problem in most rural schools and learners had to travel a distance of more than five kilometres to school. They asked if the Department had any plans to address that problem. Members also asked about the provision of basic facilities like toilets and clean water in rural schools. They said some schools in some areas in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape were operating with no toilets and clean water; learners and teachers had to help themselves in the nearby bush and streams which was a health hazard. Members also asked questions to do with the Department’s plans to address the issue of the ever-rising prices of school uniforms due to the monopoly in the manufacturing of the uniforms, the use of the Disaster Relief Grant and the Infrastructure Grant among others.

Meeting report


DBE Annual Performance Plan 2012/13 and Budget Review presentation
The Chairperson apologised for the absence of some Committee members who were attending other Committee meetings. She then requested the Department to make short presentations.

Mr Bobby Soobrayan, DBE Director General, noted that the presentation would deal with the Action Plan for 2012/2013, as well as the long-term plans from 2014 to 2025. There were no major changes to the plan and it would be implemented uniformly in all the provinces. He highlighted the Department’s initiatives to improve basic education in South Africa. The Department deepened the focus on the 3Ts (Teachers, Texts and Time), implemented a credible literacy and numeracy strategy; a maths, science and technology strategy, strengthened focus on the utilisation of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) and the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results to define interventions at school and district levels and
strengthened integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) approaches and multi-grade interventions. The above interventions would be implemented within a broader context of promoting education as a societal matter. The Department had built a social compact with all education stakeholders and the teacher unions, in particular, to promote the ‘non-negotiables’ in education.

The DG briefed the Committee on the Department’s interventions in the sector, which improved system performance focusing on improving learner performance. There would be serious analysis of performance in Grade 12 and ANA per province, district and school (where possible).

The Department would focus explicitly and compulsorily on  all districts in the country that performed below 30% in Grade 12 or/and under a determined performance in ANA. For other districts Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) would implement specific improvement plans based on current performance.


The Department’s programmes, the curriculum policy, support and monitoring,worked on improving learner outcomes, improving development of education, and supporting multigrade schools by developing digital versatile discs (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, the Department had made it compulsory to take mathematics. The Minister of Basic Education had recommended a new design and involvement of more partners that would help improve in this area. In this year 53 million books were delivered to grades 10,11, and 12, and this would continue.

DBE was looking forward to working together with other departments, including the Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Social Development (DSD), to perform better. 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.

Planning, Information and Assessment was the branch 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. All Grade 9 learners were to begin participating in universal ANA. 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.  

The Educational Enrichment Services aimed to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. 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. Other programmes included 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.

The Department rapidly addressed the backlogs in provision of infrastructure as well as furniture and specialist rooms. The process to review and address shortcomings in teacher provision and utilisation in some districts was underway.

There was a new campaign launched, with a dedicated web presence, to encourage youths to take up teaching as a career and a strategy to improve teacher recruitment and reduce teacher shortages in schools was finalised. The criteria to combat over-sized classes were incorporated into the national post provisioning norms that distribute teaching posts across schools, following a review of the problem of large classes.

Mr Soobrayan said that the Department’s expenditure increased from R6.4 billion in 2008/09 to R14.1 billion in 2011/12 and was expected to continue growing over the medium term to reach R21.4 billion in 2014/15.
The budget provided additional allocations over the MTEF period of R149.6 million in 2012/13, R322.1 million in 2013/14 and R257.5 million in 2014/15 for the following priority areas:

Improved conditions of service for Department personnel (R7.2 million, R11.8 million and R12.9 million)
Transfers to Umalusi for increases to compensation of employees due to improvements in conditions of service (R859 000, R1.4 million and R1.6 million)
Transfers to Umalusi to cover its expanded mandate (R22 million, R75 million and R83 million)
Annual national assessments to strengthen the existing programme and expand assessments to include Grade 9 (R75 million in 2013/14 and R160 million in 2014/15)
Education infrastructure grant for disaster relief (R119.5 million in 2012/13 and R158.9 million in 2013/14).

The following conditional grant allocations were reduced by R743 million in total over the MTEF period (R203.4 million in 2012/13, R189.7 million in 2013/14 and R349.8 million in 2014/15):
Dinaledi Schools grant (R300 000, R332 000 and R648 000)
Technical Secondary Schools Recapitalisation grant (R631 000, R698 000 and R1.4 million)
HIV and AIDS Life Skills Grant (R629 000, R695 000 and R1.4 million)
National School Nutrition Programme grant (R21.6 million, R20.1 million and R37.2 million)
Education Infrastructure grant (R180.2 million, R168 million and R309.3 million).

The 2012 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) allocations from National Treasury also rose from R16.3 billion in the 2012/13 financial year to R20.4 billion in the 2014/15 financial year.

In the budget allocation per programme over the 2012 MTEF, administration got R310 million in 2012/13 and it rose to R348 million in 2014/15 financial year.

Planning, Information and Assessment had the highest allocation with R8.4 billion in 2012/13 and it increased to R12.2 billion in the 2014/15 financial year. (See Document)

Mr Soobrayan said that in 2011 the Department had seen the system stabilising and the introduction of key interventions such as Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), Workbooks, ANA and Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). During the coming financial year these interventions would be consolidated to improve learner performance.

Ms D Rantho (Eastern Cape, ANC) asked what the Department was going to do to address the problem of unfinished buildings. Some of these buildings had been in such a condition since 1994. Was there any plan to refurbish these buildings? Which grant was allocated for the completion of these buildings, the Disaster Relief Grant or Infrastructure Grant.

Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG: Planning, Information and Assessment, said that there were two grants, the Education Backlogs Grant and the Education Infrastructure Grant, from which the provinces could get funding. Provinces had to submit their plans and were monitored

Mr M de Villiers (Western Cape, DA) questioned the Department’s position on the renovation and construction of new buildings in schools to ease the shortage of classrooms in some rural areas. He also commented that the Department was not doing enough to improve the problems of nutrition and learner transport. What was the Department doing with the problem of the shortage of books in schools? What was the Department’s position on the recapitalisation of technical secondary schools?

Mr Padayachee said that it was part of the Department’s programme to address those problems. The reasons for the incompletion ranged from poor management on the side of the Department or contractors not able to complete the work. The National Treasury had set aside R10 million for each of the provinces to ensure completion of work. The other reason was that at times only one or two companies had the needed material for the work to be completed and if that company failed to deliver that would delay the completion of the projects.

Mr Soobrayan said that it was a problem of the school principals who supplied the Department with wrong numbers of learners. This year the Department had distributed 53 million books. It was a problem of principals’ accountability but the Department was going to set an example and stern measures were to be taken.

Mr Soobrayan also said that, to alleviate the problem of textbooks, the Department designed workbooks using its own experts from universities. When the Department developed a text, it would own the copyright and own the intellectual property rights. The Department would also revise the workbooks, which then belonged to the Department. This would reduce the printing costs. The prices on the market would also go down.

Mr S Plaatjie (North West/COPE) questioned the Department regarding the latest developments in infrastructure developments in Limpopo.

Mr Soobrayan said that in Limpopo there was progress made, though there were some challenges in the Eastern Cape, but they had been resolved.

He said that there was a programme running for human resource (HR) monitoring to ensure that all teachers were teaching the right subjects that they were trained for. This was because some maths and science teachers had resorted to teaching languages in urban schools simply because they did not want to transfer to go and teach maths or science in the remote areas. He also said that a programme was put in place to encourage youths to take up teaching as a profession

Mr Plaatjie asked the Department’s strategies to solve the problem of the continuous poor performance in subjects like maths and science.

Mr Mathazima Mweli, DBE Deputy Director-General, said that the Department had introduced a mathematical literacy and numeracy strategy. The Department was implementing the Early Childhood and Development Plan so that it would get it right from the early stages. The Minister and the DG had ordered the Department to organise a maths and science summit. The Department was going to look for partnerships in and outside the country like the one it had with the Cuban government.

Ms B Mncube (Gauteng) asked what the Department was going to do to address the problem of scholar transport in some areas and how rural children were going to benefit from the programme.

Mr Soobrayan said that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport to make sure that all transport problems were resolved but the Department was having a bilateral with the Ministry to resolve the problems.

The Chairperson questioned the difference in the usage of the Disaster Relief Grant and the Infrastructure Grant. Which monitoring mechanisms were there to ensure the correct use of the right grant?

She said that in some cases the Department was responding late with the Disaster Relief Fund to assist affected schools and the schools would go up to six months before they were assisted.

She asked what mechanism the Department had in place to ensure that it picked up weaknesses early and deal with them before becoming worse. How did it ensure that the funds that provinces got were used for the right purpose? How did it monitor that? How far had the Department gone in the merging of farm schools? What was the progress?

Mr Soobrayan agreed that there was need for monitoring mechanisms to be put in place. That would be done. In terms of the budget analysis and financial analysis National Treasury had a very serious system of monitoring provincial expenditure. It monitored it on a monthly basis

Ms Rantho said that not much was being done in Eastern Cape. It was the second time that Eastern Cape had been put under Section 100B.

She questioned what was going to happen to the budget allocated to schools that had already taken the initiative to build or renovate.

She asked about the explicit and compulsory monitoring of the provinces performing below 30%. She questioned the Department’s plan in connection with the under performing provinces or schools.

Ms Rantho also questioned the Department about the issue of the SGB's closing down schools and asked if that was legal.

Ms Rantho said that in KwaZulu-Natal there was a programme with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) where cooperatives were formed. She inquired if that was going to happen in all provinces to help youths by creating jobs.

She raised her concern over students who got certificates from further education and training (FET) colleges but did not return to the same rural areas. Could the Department do anything to make sure that the training given in these FET colleges suited the agricultural set up of the respective areas?

Ms Mncube questioned the cost of infrastructure building. She asked if it was possible to put a curb on the escalation of prices. She questioned the Department’s criteria when allocating funds.

Mr Plaatjie asked how far the Department had gone with the implementation of the e-education and the laptop programme.

He also asked the Department’s progress on addressing the issue of ghost learners. He asked whether there was a regulation to deregister learners and the period for doing so.

Mr De Villiers asked whether schools could adopt a computerised system to monitor attendance and dropouts. He also asked about the percentage of Grade 9 learners who performed at the required language level (see document, page 29).

He asked whether it was possible to decrease the 5 km stipulated maximum walking distance to schools.

He questioned the throughput rate for the teachers raining programme. How did it address the problem of the maths and science teachers?

He asked whether the Department had any programme to monitor the spending and progress in the building of schools.

Mr Soobrayan said that, to ensure that the provinces used the grant for the purpose intended, the Department had the Division of Revenue Act and other guidelines. The Department would also ask for business plans before funding a project. In some cases funding would be withheld when the schools did not comply with requests of the Department.
Mr De Villiers asked what measures the Department had put in place to assist in the management of the nutrition grant.

The Chairperson asked if there was any discussion around the formulation of a policy relating to the issue of learner transport. What was the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS among learners and educators?

She also asked how the Department had addressed the problem of monopoly in the production of school uniforms.

Mr Soobrayan said that the SGBs did not close schools. The law did not allow that. There were procedures to be followed.

Mr Soobrayan said that the FET colleges looked at how the demand for skills matched the supply for schools. He said that it was very hard to try and curb the human need so that people did not run away from an area after being trained.

Mr Soobrayan said that the Department had made progress in addressing the teacher laptop programme. Deals had been struck with providers. Some teachers, who could not buy, could go for loans but some teachers were not credit worthy. However, a new proposal, in addition to the old plan, which would allow teachers to get laptops at a very cheaper rate but pay a monthly subscription, was being put in place.

Schools could not deregister learners (ghost learners) who were failing to attend, especially in areas like Western Cape due to the harvesting season. He said that if the Department acted too harshly that would actually discourage those learners from ever returning to school.

The Department was working on the issue of the computer-based learner register. The Department had other systems as well, like the cell phone system, to monitor learner attendance.

It was the Government’s will to decrease the 5 km stipulated maximum walking distance but that would mean high costs.

The issue of the learner educator ratio was a serious challenge, as the Department might not have enough teachers. He said that the main problem was implementation of Post Provisioning Norm (PPN) and curriculum choices by schools.

On the throughput rate of teachers of maths and science the Department was not where it thought it would be but, however, it was working on that.

Concerning the guidelines or national policy on learner transport there were policies in place already, but at times the implementation at the level of schools was the problem. This was the same problem as the problem of uniforms. It was a problem at the level of schools administration and not a national matter.

Mrs Gugu Ndebele, DBE Deputy Director-General: Social and School Enrichment, said that, on the issue of nutrition, the Department had allocated officials responsible for each of the provinces precisely in relation to the money. The Department had also trained the districts and principals on the monitoring and reporting of the money. On HIV and AIDS prevalence, a study in 2008 showed that around 9.2% of the learners in schools were positive but the majority of school going learners were negative. Of that percentage the large number were young girls. She added that the Department was planning to do a second round study.

Mr Padayachee said that there was good progress in Free State in the merging of farm schools; a number of schools had been merged. In Eastern Cape, there had been consultations with relevant stakeholders on mergers and closures.

He also said that in cases where schools had taken the initiative to build or renovate the school and the Department had already allocated a budget for that project, the budget would be made available. If the school did not need any further funding in infrastructure the money would remain under infrastructure development and the school next on the list could be brought forward.

Mr Mweli said that, regarding learners pass rate, the senior stage learners were expected to pass 8 out of 9.

Mr Soobrayan added that the Department found that in some provinces security features in Pastel were not activated. That allowed any Pastel manager to create a ghost teacher and pay him into whatever account. The Department would send people in and physically check that these security features were activated. The Department was also working closely with the Department of Higher Education and Training to reduce the number of adults who were illiterate, especially the post grade 9. Plans had been put in place to deal with those people.

The Chairperson requested the Department to invite both the Chairperson and the Select Committee when the Department had the results, before they were published.

The meeting was adjourned.


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