The Committee had scheduled a briefing on the 2011/12 Annual Report of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). However, the Minister, Deputy Minister and Director General had all tendered their apologies. Members were disappointed, pointing out that this had happened in the previous year as well, and the Minister had not attended other meetings in this year in which attendance was requested. They decided not to proceed with the Annual Report but to hold it over until senior officials were present.
The Committee was then presented with the Negotiating Mandates of the provinces on the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B24B-2012]. KwaZulu Natal and Northern Cape did not present any mandates. Six other provinces were in favour of the Bill, but suggestions were made by Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and North West. The Western Cape was opposed to the Bill, because it pointed out that a constitutional amendment was required, as education remained a provincial and national competency, and the effect of the Bill would be to place the new colleges under the control of the national Department. The Department was asked to comment, but could comment only on the Eastern Cape mandate as this was the only one received in writing prior to the meeting. It felt that most of the matters raised did not go to the substance of the Bill but were essentially policy issues. The Committee asked that the Department consider and report back in writing on the other submissions.
The Acting Chairperson noted that apologies were received from the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Director General of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
Mr M De Villiers (DA – Western Cape) wanted to know the reasons given for their absence.
Ms M Boroto (ANC – Mpumalanga) said she was disappointed in the Department. This was not the first time the Committee had sought the attendance of the Minister or the Deputy Minister. She proposed that the Annual Report of the Department not be discussed until senior officials of the Department were present.
Ms P Mncube (ANC – Gauteng) seconded the proposal and added that the Minister and Deputy Minister had been absent in the previous year as well.
Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B24B-2012]: Presentation of Negotiating mandates
The Acting Chairperson asked the provincial delegates to present the negotiating mandates on the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill (the Bill).
Eastern Cape Negotiating Mandate.
The representative noted that the Eastern Cape was in favour of the Bill, but had some comments to make. It believed that the Institute, as provided for in Clause 15, should have representation at provincial level. In regard to the amendment of section 43C, it felt that the current administrators in some of the FET colleges should be considered when Board members were appointed. The new section 43F was not clear on what qualifications or expertise the Administrator appointed to take over the Institute should have. It was finally concerned about the issue of dual employers, in relation to the revised clause 25.
The Eastern Cape provided a list of general recommendations. It noted that the Bill was silent on addressing the needs of the disabled, on the qualification requirements of lecturers of technical and vocational education and training colleges and community colleges. There were recommendations on the naming of those at the head of colleges, mentioning the title “Chief Executive Officers”. It also commented on the regulation of the establishment of satellite colleges; it was concerned about service conditions of Adult Education and Training (AET) practitioners; AET centres should have their own infrastructure and not rely on schools. It felt that liaison with the business sector should be strengthened. The Bill was criticised as falling short in addressing the entry and exit points of Community Education and Training (CET) colleges and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges.
Free State Negotiating Mandate
Free State authorised its representative to vote in favour of the Bill
Gauteng Negotiating Mandate
The Gauteng representative indicated that this legislature supported the Bill, but had some recommendations to make. It would recommend that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET or the Department ) must manage the movement of staff from the province. This Department, in conjunction with other provincial departments, must decide on what would become of school sites being used as Adult Basic Education Centres (AETs) at the moment. The Department must notify all private AET centres, in writing, to register within 12 months. It also recommended that the Department should consider provincial representation on the academic boards of the colleges within their province
Limpopo Negotiating Mandate
No written mandate was tabled from Limpopo, but the representative indicated that Limpopo was in favour of the Bill. However, it had some comments to make, as follows:
- It proposed that the formerly-named Further Education and Training (FET) colleges be called TVETs, and proposed that they and the Continuing Education and Training (CET) colleges be integrated in terms of campuses.
-It welcomed the establishment of the South African Institute for Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (SAIVCET) as a juristic person (as set out in Chapter 7A, new section 43A)
-It felt that the new section 43B must further clarify how the Minister would provide management, leadership and operational training for officials of the Department.
-The new section 43C(2)(b) should be rephrased to read “not less than nine members with relevant experience and skills, and not more than 15”.
-The new section 43C(2)(c) was added and all higher education stakeholders should be represented.
- The new section 43F(4)(a) should be rephrased to ‘ if the board fails to comply with the directive within six months, the Minister must dissolve the board and appoint an administrator to take over the responsibility of the board’
-In the revised section 43F(6) it considered that the costs for the appointment of an administrator should be for the account of the Department and not the institution
-The new section 43G was silent on disciplinary measures to be taken against members of the board in case of misconduct
-It proposed that in the new section 43G(3)(a) period of office of the administrator should be reduced to 12 months
-In respect of the new section 43G(4), the Minister must ensure that a memorandum was signed between the administrator and the institute
-In relation to the new section 43H, after an administrator had been appointed, the Minister must ensure that the administrator should have financial resources
Mpumalanga Negotiating Mandate
The representative of Mpumalanga Province noted this province’s mandate to negotiate in favour of the Bill taking into consideration the views of the provincial committee and the proposed amendments in the attached report.
The provincial committee had made the following input:
-the administrator should be appointed for 6 months
-the administrator must not conduct investigations
-the board must consolidate the financial report and it should be tabled in Parliament by the Minister
-the process of dissolving the board must be defined
-the Minister must appoint the administrator
-The Bill must clearly define the people entitled to serve on the board and the process of qualification and disqualification.
-Appointments to the board must be published in the Government Gazette and the national newspapers and the Chairperson must have a Deputy.
-The Bill must stipulate the functions of the board, which must be constituted from professionals in the education sector, organised labour and one community member
-The Bill needed to indicate the role of the Director General of the Department of Higher Education and Training.
-The Bill had to clarify the role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the Institute and how the CEO accounted to the Minister.
Clarification was sought on the definition of ‘continuity’, who would manage the institute and to whom the board would be accountable. This province also questioned the dissolution of the board and the period for re-appointing a new board, the relationship between the board and the institute and the definition of an institute.
It was further noted that the stakeholders invited to a public hearing proposed the following amendments:
-The two institutional types be the Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (VCET) colleges and Community Education and Training(CET) colleges
-They proposed additional functions for the institute (see page 5 of attached mandate)
-Infrastructure growth should be added to the funding norms, and the current funding formula of 80/20 be adjusted to 90/10
-The Bill should enable colleges to produce artisans with full qualifications
-The Bill should address articulation between CETs, VCETs and universities
-FET Colleges should offer National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 1-5
-The Bill should spell out in greater detail the relationship between CET and VCET colleges.
-It was rrecommended that a professional body cater for CET and VCET colleges specifically
-There should be wsupport services for adult learners in CETs, for connectivity for VCETs and CETs and for national quality assurance systems and for governance
-The Bill should set targets for industry to take on students, and for Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) to take on FET graduates for internship and placement, and that industry do their own training while working with VCETs
-The Bill must insert provisions for private colleges, give a definition of a private college and clarify the role of private colleges.
North West Negotiating Mandate
The North West Provincial representative said this province had indicated it was in support of the Bill
Western Cape Negotiating Mandate
The representative from the Western Cape indicated that the Western Cape Province did not support the Bill, because AET centres would be transferred to the national Department of Higher Education and Training, similar to what happened to FET colleges, and consequently provinces would not be accountable for AET centres. In addition, it believed that a constitutional amendment was required, in terms of Schedule 4 Part A, because education was a concurrent national and provincial competence, and this amendment had not yet been passed.
KwaZulu Natal and Northern Cape
No negotiating mandates were received from these provinces.
Mr Firoz Patel, Deputy Director General: Planning and Monitoring, DHET, noted that the Department had assisted the provinces when they had held their public hearings and briefings. As the Department had received some of the negotiating mandates only that morning or the previous afternoon, the response of the representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) was limited to the Eastern Cape submission.
The Department felt that in most instances the comments raised were of a policy nature and did not address the Bill’s clauses directly. He said the issue of board representation at a provincial level was important but that, in terms of the Act, was a policy matter. However, the Department would take account of the sentiments being expressed.
Decentralising the Institute would depend on the workload of the Institute.
In regard to the new section 43C, he noted that a new board would not exclude people who had served or had expertise to be considered.
In regard to the new section 43F,it was self-evident that the Minister needed to appoint an administrator.
Eastern Cape had commented on clause 25, but that was now changed to clause 24 in the revised ‘B’ Bill. Dual employers still existed, but it was not the case for dual employment.
Most of the general recommendations were policy issues, which would be taken into account in the Department’s White Paper process. Addressing the needs of the disabled was, for example, a policy matter, not one to be covered in the Bill.
He agreed that it was correct and urgent that the matter of service conditions of AET practitioners be dealt with, as not much had been achieved in the past 18 years. This was a prime focus area in the Department’s Strategic Plans. Similarly, whether or not AETs had their own infrastructure was also a policy and resource issue, but funds would have to be made available to build up the sector.
Lecturer qualifications were also a policy matter. Liaison with the business sector was a very strong policy issue. The relationship between CET and VCET and universities was also a policy issue and would be attended to.
He acknowledged that the Bill was silent on the matter of changing the naming of CEOs to Principals.
One important point raised was where two colleges fought over a particular jurisdiction, and that did need to be looked into.
Mr Eben Boshoff, Chief Director: Legal Services, Department of Higher Education and Training, said that in relation to the appointment of people to the board, a decision to appoint any member was an administrative decision, but there had to be a good rationale behind it.
In relation to the new sections dealing with the qualifications and experience of an administrator, he said that the functions of an administrator, as set out in the new section 43, were involved, and a single person would not possess all those qualifications, which was why there was a provision in Section 43H for the administrator to have assistance from appointed experts. Therefore, it was not clear what qualifications the administrator should have, and stating this in law might become impractical. The Bill was flexible enough to allow for the identification of the person who would take responsibility, and to provide that person with assistance in carrying out his mandate.
The disabled were addressed in the Preamble to the Act. Obviously, they could not be unfairly discriminated against and their needs had to be accommodated.
The revised Section 22(2) provided a framework for norms and standards and for issues on infrastructure to be dealt with.
He also added comment on the term of CEO / principals. The principal Act talked about principals, and not about CEOs. The term CEO had entered the debate during the definition of a Principal and had been used to clarify what role the Principal played.
Ms Mncube said that the Eastern Cape had submitted that provinces be represented on the board. Mpumalanga had submitted that organised labour and business be represented on the board. She wondered why this would not be put into the Bill, instead of the Department covering it in regulations.
The Chairperson asked the Department to apply its mind to the inputs from the provinces and to reply in writing given the difficulty with these inputs being made very late.
The meeting was adjourned.
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