Briefing by Department on Mathematics & Science; update by South African Council for Educators on Education & Programme of Actio

Basic Education

20 May 2002
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 May 2002
BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT ON MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE; UPDATE BY SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL FOR EDUCATORS ON EDUCATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR 2002-03


Chairperson: Prof Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SACE Presentation
South African Council for Educators: Annual Report 2001/2 (Text Extract)
Handbook for Code of Professional Ethics (SACE) (.pdf file)
National Strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology in General and Further Education and Training
100 Dedicated Schools in Mathematics, Science and Technology

SUMMARY
The Committee commended the Department for its efforts in tackling the issue of misconduct in schools and also for trying to increase the number of matriculants with mathematics and science subjects. The Committee asked practical questions for clarity on how the Department was trying to meet the challenges regarding it strategies.

MINUTES
South African Council for Educators
Mr Abrahams, Chairperson of SACE led the discussion by outlining the structure of the Council and its functions as set out in the SACE annual report of 2002. Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer of SACE, continued the presentation by highlighting SACE future plans as set out in the SACE annual report 2002.

Discussion
A Member commented that media reporting on sexual harassment in schools was one sided and asked if there could not be some media strategy to destigmatise this perception. He also asked how quickly cases of misconduct are dealt with.

Mr Abrahams said that he was waiting to meet with the CEO of the Research Council that published the report so that they could explain their findings to SACE. On the second question, Mr Abrahams said that the SACE had little power for punitive actions and added that SACE had asked the Minister to look into legislation and try to provide SACE with more powers to deal with cases of misconduct, especially sexual harassment. He added that cases were dealt with over an average of three months and that some cases were prioritised over others.

Another Member asked if sexual abuse was reported to the police. He also wanted to know if SACE had a statistical profile of registered teachers. One the first question, Mr Abrahams said that the Council was still trying to strengthen its investigative capacity which will determine if a case merits further investigation by the police. On the second question, SACE had captured data for registered teachers but that the data was still not usable.

A Member asked whether there was counseling for victims.
Mr Abrahams said that they were still investigating possibilities such as hearings and support for the victims.

Another Member asked if it was possible that some of the cases were not reported.
Mr Abraham said that was possible and added that SACE wanted to encourage the communities to speak out. The same related to the news stories of teachers' confrontational protests against visits by the Superintendent and he then asked if SACE had taken any disciplinary steps. SACE responded by saying that the matter was a labour issue outside their jurisdiction.

A Member asked if SACE knew the causes of sexual harassment. The response was that sexual harassment was a reflection of moral decay and the problem of teachers viewing themselves as powerful adults over weak students.

One Member asked if SACE knew the whereabouts of teachers that were not included in the SACE statistics. He also asked why teachers did not dominate the SACE executive.
Mr Abrahams said that SACE did not know where unregistered teachers were and the SACE was in the process of increasing their statistics. On the second question, he said that eighteen out of thirty members of the Council were teachers. He added that it was the teachers in the Council that voted members of the Department into executive positions and thereby showing confidence in the Department.

National Strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology
Mr Khetsi Lehoko, Deputy Director General: Further Education and Training, outlined the Department's strategy for fostering mathematics and science in schools. He started his presentation by indicating low matric pass rates in mathematics and science in schools, especially in disadvantaged communities. He added that it was a challenge and a necessary task to have more pupils pass mathematics and science in matric and to have more tertiary graduates exiting in mathematics, science and technology qualifications.

Discussion
One Member asked if the Department was doing anything to assist schools that were trying their best in mathematics and science. Mr Lehoko said that the Department was running award programmes to recognise and encourage such schools.

Mr Mponjane asked if the Department was still trying to recall mathematics and science teachers that voluntarily took their retirement packages. He also asked if the Department was planning to increase community awareness about this strategy.
On the first question, Mr Lehoko said that there was an advertisement for mathematics and science teachers to apply for posts but there was no significant response. On the second question, he agreed that the strategy should be advertised more. He added that the precondition for intervening in schools is that the school must have qualified maths and science teachers and that such schools were limited.

Mr Abrahams was pleased with the presentation. He wanted to know what exactly Mr Lehoko meant by short and medium term. Mr Lehoko said that the strategy's initial phase was a short-term period of three years.

Mr Kgwele was also pleased with the presentation and commended the partnership between the Department and private sector in this strategy. He wanted to know what the Department was doing with the short supply of learner support materials. [this question was not answered]

Prof Ripinga asked if dedicated schools could not be used as resource centres for other schools within the neighborhood. He agreed with Mr Lehoko that while mathematics and science were emphasised, matric qualifications should be a comprehensive and collaborated effort at all levels. On the first question he agreed that in the long term, dedicated schools would be used as resource centres for under-privileged schools. He added that technikons and universities would be asked to involve themselves in the strategy.

Mr Motsitsi commended the Department on its strategy for mathematics and science. He agreed with Prof Ripinga that matric qualifications should be a comprehensive and collaborated effort at all levels.

Ms Hlengethwa agreed with Prof. Ripinga's suggestion that dedicated schools could serve as resource centres for disadvantaged schools.

The meeting was adjourned.

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