SABC Special Assignment Report and School Infrastructure in Eastern Cape: briefing

Basic Education

27 May 2002
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 May 2002
SABC SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT REPORT & SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE IN EASTERN CAPE: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Prof. Mayatula

Documents handed out:
Review of Education in Eastern Cape
Infrastructure Development Programme
Annual Report

SUMMARY
The MEC commented on the Special Assignment television report on the state of education in the Eastern Cape. He acknowledged the existence of problems but assured the Committee of their commitment to dealing with issues. The Committee commended the progress of the MEC's programme.

MINUTES
The presentation was a response by the Eastern Cape Department of Education to the television report Special Assignment: "The State Of Education In The Eastern Cape With Special Reference To School Infrastructure.", broadcasted on 30 April 2002. The MEC for Education, Mr Stone Sizane acknowledged some of the problems that were facing schools in Eastern Cape, particularly the lack of infrastructure, corruption and unpaid teachers and pensioner teachers. He was, however, displeased by the Special Assignment report for sensationalising the issue without reporting on the progress that the provincial department had made.

Mr Sizane highlighted the progress that his office had made in dealing with the problems of education in the Eastern Cape. He outlined the context of education in the region whereby he gave a profile of schools and pupils density and the teacher/student ratios across the region. He agreed that there were problems with the availability of learner support materials but that it was not entirely his department's fault because other problems were to be blamed on schools and tenders. He also agreed that there was poor infrastructure but showed that there was work in progress such as building more classroom and upgrading some schools. In summary, the MEC was aware that there were problems but he disagreed that his department was not doing anything towards solving the problem

Operation Shukumisa
Mr Ewan Harries, Deputy Director General Eastern Cape provincial government presented the Operation Shukumisa Project. The main goal was to "lead the battle against fraud, corruption and inefficiency" in the Eastern Cape Department of Education. He gave the committee some insight on how the project was progressing. With statistics and graphical representation of the project, the committee was impressed with the project and its findings.

On the progress aspects of the project was the salary audit the aim of which was "ghost busting" fraudulent salaries paid to individuals who were not serving the department anymore or at all. Mr Harries promised that the office of the MEC was setting off to the next phase of how to effectively deal with the findings of Operation Shukumisa. This project has not yet been publicised.

Discussion
Mr Kgwele (ANC) commended the MEC's office for its honest presentation and agreed that the tasks of tackling the Eastern Cape education problems were enormous. He said that problems such as non-delivery of learner support materials could be categorised as managerial. He asked if the provincial department had any capacity to evaluate and monitor schools' management because according to him, such problems would have been long exposed if there were circuit managers who visited schools. Mr. Sizane said that his office was employing and retraining more education officers to solve the problem of non-evaluation. He added that the state was not responsible to supply text books to grades ten, eleven and twelve pupils.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) was concerned about the idea of transforming schools into Section 21 schools and allowing them to administer funds in the light of corruption and lack of infrastructure in schools. He asked how the provincial department could go ahead with the transformation of schools when itself was facing capacity problems. Mr Sizane emphasised that his office would grant a Section 21 status to schools that could be proved to have capacity. He added that the transformation of schools would still need supportive intervention from the government and did not expect the transformation to be independent.

Ms Mnandi (ANC) commended the MEC's office for the hard-work and impressive presentation and for the fact that there were 200 schools built in the Eastern Cape, "which the media forgot to profile.", she said. She was worried that under-qualified teachers who were corresponding to upgrade themselves tended to neglect their duties in favour of their studies. She asked if there were alternatives to correspondence.

Mr Sizane explained that if teachers were given study leave then they would be taken out of the classrooms completely and that it was best to have them attend for their studies in the afternoons or over weekends. He emphasised that the only solution was to try and find a balance between developing teachers and having them teaching at the same time.

Ms Mnandi (ANC) did not like the idea of a single tender supplying more than 200 schools because she said the situation was prone to inefficiency and corruption. She asked why there could not be different tenders.

Mr Sizane explained that it was better to have one tender and develop a capacity to centrally manage it instead of having five tenders and a managerial weakness to monitor them.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked why school inspectors were not featuring in the crisis and the process of solving the problems and asked if their role was maybe redundant.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) reckoned that some of reasons for non delivery by tenders was the cumbersome bureaucracy of the process and that some tenders have no capacity to deliver because they were emerging entrepreneurs with no support. He then asked if the problem of non-delivery in the Eastern Cape was because of the reasons he just mentioned.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) also commended the provincial department of education for its progress in dealing with the problems. He asked if the MEC's office had any time frames for the programme of overhauling the system. Mr Sizane said that there were no time frames yet because the task was massive. At the end of July 2002 his office would be able to show the public what it was trying to do in solving problems.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) observed that contrary to the situation in Gauteng, the teachers' appraisal system was welcome in the Eastern Cape and asked what made it acceptable in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Vadi (ANC) asked what the provincial department was doing with changing the work ethic in the public service. Mr Sizane said that the process was underway to reshuffle and redeploy managers based on a developmental and supportive staff appraisal.

A guest member commended the MEC's office for doing good work in her constituency which was the western region of the Eastern Cape. She was surprised though to learn that the state was not legally responsible to supply textbooks to grades ten, eleven and twelve pupils.

Violence and Gangsterism in the Western Cape Schools
The presentation was cancelled because the MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Advocate Gaum did not arrive. The committee felt it was inappropriate for the MEC to have his senior officials do the presentation on such a sensitive and topical issue. They viewed it as a serious concern and decided to reschedule the meeting where both the MEC for Education and the MEC for Safety and Security in the Western Cape would be present to make presentations on the issue of violence and gangsterism in the Cape Flats schools in the Western Cape.

The meeting was adjourned.

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