Basic Education Budget Review & Recommendation Report 2011/2012 adoption

Basic Education

23 October 2012
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued to consider the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and its entities. Some changes inserted after the meeting on the previous day were reviewed and highlighted by the Chairperson. She noted that timeframes had been inserted for a number of reports that the DBE was expected to furnish to the Committee.

Members requested a change to the recommendations on the Dinaledi schools and technical schools, by stating these in two separate sentences. They commented on the challenges that the technical schools were facing as a result of changes to the curriculum and one Member highlighted that the Committee had to be careful of unintended consequences. They were particularly concerned whether the recommendation on the interventions was worded strongly enough, commenting that it was not enough to for the DBE to ensure that quality learner and teacher committees were set up, but that they should also be made effective. Many of the interventions needed to be intensified. They questioned, and were satisfied that a report on the supply and demand of teachers would bring about much-needed uniformity across the country, because this would lead to formulation of a policy document. 

Although it was noted that the DBE had considered allocating additional funding to Programme 5, the Committee did not think any proposals on the funding should be made in this Report. There were thus no recommendations under this programme.

In relation to Umalusi, Members noted that there had been some misunderstandings around the performance as expressed by Umalusi and the auditors. It seemed that although the financial statements were found acceptable, the auditors’ comments related to performance against the predetermined objectives, and the Committee noted the dispute of fact, and would ask for another meeting to clear up the issues. They also wanted more clarity on the fact that the South African Council for Educators was currently renting property with a view to purchasing it, whilst it already owned, but was trying to sell, an apparently suitable building.

The final conclusion was changed to reflect that the Department had advanced in many areas, but there were still challenges that had to be resolved.
The sector needed to intensify its work to improve learner performance through key priorities. The Report was adopted, with the necessary amendments.

Members noted that at a future meeting they would assess the extent to which the Minister had implemented the recommendations made by the Committee in the previous year’s report.


Meeting report

Basic Education Budget Review & Recommendation Report 2011/2012: Adoption
The Chairperson thanked the Committee for the work done on the previous day, and noted that some revisions were required in respect of the recommendations.

At the previous meeting, the Committee had discussed each recommendation under the individual Programmes, as set out from page 39. There was one recommendation under Programme 2, one recommendation under Programme 3, no recommendations under Programme 4 and no recommendations under programme 5. There were also recommendations in relation to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) entities. She read out the recommendations (see finalised Report for details).

Programme 1
With regard to Programme 1, Members agreed that the words “and the entities” must be read at the end of the first sentence.

The Chairperson also noted changes to bullet point 2, under Programme 1, to read “Update the Committee regarding the details of the system under way to verify learner numbers during its 3rd quarterly programme progress report”. DBE had to update the Committee on that by the beginning of November 2012.

The Chairperson noted that there was now more focus on how the DBE must address challenges around under-expenditure in Programme 4, as well as comment on the lack of measurability of programme performance and the DBE’s style of reporting that did not link to the pre determined objectives. She remarked that the accuracy of departmental data impacted on the ordinary delivery and provision of text books and leave management.

Bullet point 3 on page 40 now read:  “strengthen its steering role as well as its support and monitoring of implementation in provinces, and give a report to the Committee by the end of January 2013”.

Under bullet point 4, on page 40, the phrase “within the next three months of the tabling of this report to the National Assembly” was added.

In relation to Programmme 2, the Chairperson noted that the wording now read: “The Minister for Basic Education should ensure that the Department and its entities, together with the provincial educational departments, fast track the development of adequate controls and processes to collect and verify learner numbers in the system and to ensure timeous delivery of Learner Teacher Support Material’s (LTSM) to schools. A written report should be given to the Committee by 30 November 2012”.

The Chairperson said that a written progress report regarding the recommendation under the Dinaledi schools and subjects offered in technical schools had to be given to the Committee by 31 January 2013.

Mr K Dikobo (AZAPO) said that he understood the recommendations, but suggested that they be kept separate, so that there were two different recommendations reported, in turn, for the Dinaledi schools and subjects offered in technical schools.

The Chairperson accepted Mr Dikobo’s suggestion, and read out the revised recommendation, now divided into two sentences. Written reports would be required, for both, by 31 January 2013.

Mr N Kganyago (UDM) urged the Committee to be specific regarding the technical schools issue.

The Chairperson reminded Mr Kganyago that on the previous day she had asked him to submit any points in writing, but he had seemed satisfied with a review.

Mr Dikobo remarked that technical subjects were now included in the curriculum, but changes to the curriculum had meant that a school formerly offering four different technical subjects now found itself with only two because of groupings. The DBE said that a technical school was one offering three technical subjects or more. He asked what would happen to those schools who were affected by this change and therefore were now excluded from recapitalization of technical schools programme. Some schools even had workshops, but these would no longer be supported if they were not by definition technical schools. The Committee must be wary of unintended consequences.

The Chairperson moved on to bullet point 1 of Programme 2, which would now read:  “…assesses the White Paper 6 of 2001 on Inclusive Education, in order to find out whether it has met its objectives. A written report of progress should be given to the Committee by 31 January 2013”.

Bullet point 2 under this programme now read: “Intensifies the QLTC, particularly its establishment and effectiveness at school level. A written report of progress should be given to the Committee by 31 January 2013”.

Mr D Smiles (DA) said that this captured the essence of the problem. Members knew that most committees were not being established, and those that were being established were not effective.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) remarked that if something was said to be “functional”, it did not necessarily mean that it was effective or had an impact. He added that if the Committee told the DBE to “intensify”, it meant that DBE had to put more effort into ensuring that the committees were functional, but that did not mean that they would be effective.

The Chairperson suggested that commas be inserted to give that point emphasis. It would read as follows – “…establishment, effectiveness, and impact at school level”.

Mr Smiles commented on the point regarding interventions. He said that some interventions had already been done, and now the Committee was asking for them to be intensified. He felt that the DBE should also be asked to look at the interventions again. There was a page with a list of interventions, but the interventions did not speak clearly enough to addressing the issues. He suggested that the research and editorial team refer back to the intervention list.

The Chairperson noted that a written progress report on Programme 3 had to be given by DBE to the Committee by 30 November 2012. She added that a final report on the supply and demand of teachers must be given to the Committee by 31 January 2013.

Mr Makhubele wanted to know if that would bring about uniformity in utilisation of teachers in the DBE system, across the country. At the moment, each province was doing something different.  He said that something had to be done to reach uniformity in the way in which teacher placement was handled.

The Chairperson replied that it would bring about uniformity. If DBE gave the Committee a supply and demand report, this meant that a specific policy document had to be followed.

The Chairperson noted, under Programme 4, that a progress report on planning information and assessment had to be given to the Committee by 30 November 2012.

The Chairperson said that written reports on using results as a diagnostic tool, and on the prioritisation of teacher skills development, had to be given to the Committee by 31 January 2013. The Committee wanted to see definite plans.

The Chairperson reported that the DBE had considered allocating additional funds to Programme 5, since this addressed most of the sub programmes. The Committee was also of the view that the screening programme could be expanded to cover more disadvantaged learners, if the funding was increased. She added that a written report on this approach had to be given to the Committee by 30 November 2012.

Ms N Gina (ANC) did not think that it was a viable consideration.

Mr W Madisha (COPE) agreed with Ms Gina. He added that recommendations should be a response to requests by the DBE, and that proposals on funding should be held back for the time being.

The Chairperson noted that there were no recommendations for Programme 5.

Mr Dikobo commented on Umalusi issues. He thought that this was not so much a matter between Umalusi and the Auditor-General (AG), but a matter between the Committee and the AG. There had been a dispute of fact, and the Committee had to check whether the AG had not misled the Committee. It had transpired that Umalusi had a clean audit report. He suggested that the AG and Umalusi be called in together to a meeting, to discern where the problem lay.

Mr Smiles said that the Committee had misinterpreted the AG’s remarks, since they related not to the financial statements, but to the performance against pre-determined objectives.

Mr Dikobo pointed out that those entities were generally audited by the AG, they may apply for permission to be audited by an independent auditor, but if this was done, the independent auditors were using exactly the same yard stick, as they also audited performance against pre-determined objectives. Entities would not escape anything by approaching an independent auditor. Umalusi, however, had said that it had never met with the AG, and he agreed that an explanation on this was needed.

The Chairperson said that Umalusi should meet with the Committee before December 2012.

The Chairperson had commented that a written report by the South African Council for Educators (SACE), regarding the training of educators on SACE’s function and role, must be handed to the Committee by 31 January 2013.

Another written report by SACE regarding updating its database and its registered members must be received by the Committee by March 2013.

Mr Dikobo noted that SACE was renting a property, with the intention to buy, yet SACE simultaneously owned a suitable building, which it was currently trying to sell. He thought that the Committee should include a recommendation on that, as clarity was needed.

Mr Smiles agreed.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Researcher to insert that into the Report, and to add that a written progress report to the Committee had to be given by 31 January 2013.

The Committee reported that the following conclusion would now be inserted:

The Committee has reviewed and analysed the performance of the Department and its entities for the 2011/12 financial year. It observed that the Department and two of its entities have retained unqualified audit opinions, with findings, while the third entity moved from receiving a clean audit in 2010/11 to an unqualified audit opinion in 2011/12.
[We have noted that Umalusi disputes aspects of the findings of the AG.]

The Committee further took note that the Department has responsive strategic priorities and objectives in place, aimed at realising Outcome 1 of improving quality basic education. In terms of the overall performance, there were many areas in which the Department had advanced in achieving its objectives during the reporting period. The Committee also noted that there were major challenges in the sector’s service delivery that remain to be resolved.
The sector needs to intensify its work to improve learner performance through key priorities such as Workbooks, ANA, CAPS, ASIDI and Teacher Education during the MTEF period.’

Mr Dikobo wanted to add a disclaimer in the report because there was a dispute of facts, and the Chairperson agreed to this.

Mr Makhubele suggested that at the next BRRR meeting, the Committee had to assess whether the Minister had in fact implemented the points on which the Committee had made recommendations in the previous year.

Members adopted the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report, as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.


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