Department of Higher Education and Training Annual Performance Plan, with Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

24 April 2013
Chairperson: Ms B Mncube (ANC; Gauteng) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Director General of the Department gave an overview of the Annual Performance Plan and Budget 2013/14. The mandate was to expand the access to education and training for young people. Adequate capacity was essential to ensure the effective provision and facilitation of learning. The Department had to ensure that the increasing number of students entering the labour market were properly equipped. Important progress had been made since 2009, with a 12 % increase in student enrolments and an 11% increase in graduates from South African universities.  There had also been a 24% increase in the enrolment of students at Further Education and Training colleges.

Five programmes were presented by the Department in which their targets were set for 2013/14. Members’ concerns included the fact that there were insufficient FET colleges in the rural areas, such as the Mount Fletcher and Sterkspruit areas of the Eastern Cape. A Member was worried about the drop in the mathematics literacy pass rate. How was the Department planning to meet the skills shortage in the labour market? The stability and poor state of the Department’s information technology system and the integrity of the data was a real issue.  Members expressed concern as to how the target of 11 247 engineering graduates was going to be achieved -- and where would they all be placed?

Other concerns included the impasse between SETA and the Department of Water affairs and Environment about who was going to employ staff, and what measures were being taken to improve artisan training for electricians and mechanics. The issue of student funding and provision for student housing was also raised. Two Members asked questions relating to the opening and construction of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. The Director General undertook to brief the Select Committee on their establishment.

Questions were also asked about the Adult Education programme, the performance of SETAs, and whether universities complied with grant regulations. The issue of adequate funding for universities and funding for students for foundation programmes prior to entering university, was also raised.            

Meeting report

Department of Higher Education and Training: Annual Performance Plan and Budget 2013
Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director-General, Department of Higher Education and Training, gave an overview of the mandate, which was to expand access to education and training for the youth and to capacitate educational institutions for effective provision and facilitation of learning.  He discussed progress since 2009 and identified the Department’s five programmes: Administration, Human Resources Development, Planning and Monitoring Coordination, University Education, Vocational and Continuing Educational Training, and Skills Development.

The mandate was to increase the number of students successfully entering the labour market after completion of training. The Department had to ensure colleges had a curriculum responsive to the demands of the local market, and that an emphasis was placed on artisan training. There should be credible institutional mechanisms for skills planning to support an inclusive economic growth path. There was a need to expand research, development and innovation capacity for economic growth and social development. This also required effective, professional administration which was informed by good corporate governance practices.

Mr. Qonde highlighted the progress since 2009 regarding student head count. Enrolments at universities had increased by 12% from 837 779 to 937 455. The highlights were graduates from universities increased by 11 %, from 144 810 to 160 299.  Initial teacher education graduates increased by 60%, from 6315 to 10 133. Students awarded bursaries at FET Colleges increased by 183 %. Headcount enrolments at FET Colleges increased by 24% from 345 566 in 2010 to 427 423 in 2011.  Artisan trade test pass rates had improved from 41% to 43% in 2009 and 2011 respectively. The Department had entered into numerous international scholarships offered to South African students and a dual system of apprenticeship training used in Switzerland, Germany and Austria was been piloted.        

Programme 1: Administration
Ms Lulama Mobobo, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DHET presented the targets for 2013/14, compared to the estimated performance of six selected indicators for 2012/2013. The more important indicators were -

●          the vacancy rate in the Department would be reduced from 15% to 10%.

●          it would remain four months to fill a vacancy.

●          Integrated Communications Technology (ICT) Governance Maturity Level 2 to be achieved – previously Level One.

●          28 days to pay service providers, compared to 30 days.

●          maintain 100 % response rate for queries via the call centre

●          Resolve disciplinary cases within the current 90-day level.

Programme 2: Human Resource Development, Planning and Monitoring Coordination
Dr Hersheela Narsee, Director: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, DHET, briefed the committee on the purpose of the programme and outlined seven performance indicators and the targets for 2013/14. The programme me provided strategic direction in the development, implementation and monitoring of departmental policies and Human Resource Development Strategy. The seven indicators and targets established were –

- 2 modules of a coherent career management and information system, developed and implemented by 2013/14.
- the total number of users reached by career guidance services: radio, 3m users, exhibitions 28 000, helpline 15 000, web portal 120 000.
- 100% of legislation, regulations and legal opinion and agreements drafted
- 100% of public institutional data integrated into education and training management information system
- Ministerial policy guidelines developed on the mandatory role of the Quality Councils and South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
- publish a research bulletin on issues in the post school system
- annual update of the integrated management information system with reliable information.            

Dr Narsee then elaborated on a further on seven further performance indicators and targets which fell under Human Resources Development -
- annual DHET Performance Plans developed and approved with performance indicators.
- an international relations operational framework report compiled.
- a publication on international cooperation compiled.
- an updated database of all international engagements of all public post schools institutions.
- implementation plans with priority countries and multi-lateral agencies compiled.
- deal with all litigations against the DHET or Minister.
- monitoring the report on the Social Inclusion Policy Framework. 

Programme 3: University Education
Dr Diane Parker, Acting Deputy Director General: University Education, presented a broad overview of the five strategic objectives of the programme. The first strategic objective was to expand the higher education sector in order to increase equitable access with success. Nine performance indicators were highlighted as targets for 2013/2014. These were the following -

- An increase from 909 716 students enrolled at universities, to 935 710.
- An increase from 179 793 first-time enrolments at university, to 183 893.
- 20 public higher education institutions involved in foundation phase teacher education.
- an increase from 14 600 students in foundation provisioning programme, to 15 200 students.
- an increase from 593 596 African students at universities, to 610 357 African students.
- an increase from 539 596 female students at university, to 563 509 female students.
- ten universities identified and supported to offer programme for FET lecturers in line with the new FET qualification policy
- a policy document on Adult Educator Qualifications developed
- an increase from R1.6 billion to R1.8 billion on infrastructure.

Dr. Parker highlighted the second strategic objective, which was to improve success rates in higher education studies at public institutions and therefore increase graduate outputs by 2014. To achieve this, there were nine performance indicators for this programme -

- a report on the effectiveness of teaching development funds at universities.
- an 80 % success rate of students on foundation provisioning.
-  a 77% success rate in higher education studies at public institutions by 2015/16
- an increase in graduates from 167 807 to 179 780.
- an increase from 10 682 engineering graduates to 11 247 graduates in engineering science.
- an increase from 8 535 graduates in human health and veterinary science to 9006 graduates.
- an increase from 9 700 graduates in natural and physical science, to 10 673 graduates.
- an increase from 78% of higher education institutions with good governance and management, to 83%

The third strategic objective was the monitoring of good governance and management of the Higher Education system in order to build capacity and efficiency. Three criteria for performance indicator targets were set -

- an increase from 78% to 83% of public higher institutions with good governance and management.
- 100% of registered private higher education institutions complying with regulatory criteria.
- one governance training workshop for ministerial appointees on councils

Programme 4: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training
Dr Maboreng Maharaswa, Deputy Director General, Vocational and Continuing Educational Training, DHET, gave an overview of the programme for FET Colleges and Adult Education Training Centres and its four strategic objectives. The first objective was to increase access to and improve success in programmes leading to intermediate and high level learning by 2014. Three performance indicators were highlighted for 2013/14

- an increase from 255 000 learners enrolled in Adult Education and Training (AET) centres, to 278 000 learners
- an increase from 550 000 enrolments in FET Colleges, to 650 000 enrolments
- an increase from 180 826, to 222 817 FET college students awarded bursaries

Other indicators were an increase of two more FET colleges, to ten colleges by 2013/14, with 130 lecturers, managers and regional office officials trained to implement the student support services. A total of 600 lecturers were to be trained to support curriculum delivery in FET Colleges, while 60 Provincial Education Department officials would support the new National Senior Certificate for Adults (NASCA) and General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) curriculum delivery. Targets were also set to improve certification rates in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification and the pass rate in Mathematics and Maths literacy (see table).  Targets were also set for increasing certification rates of bursary recipients.

The second objective of the programme was to strengthen the institutional capacity of VET institutions to improve their performance and efficiency. The highlights were 50 college councils trained in corporate governance, nine public institutions identified for declaration as colleges, and six new FET college campuses to be built.

The third strategic objective was to manage and administer a credible and efficient examination and assessment system for VET institutions.

The fourth strategic objective was to provide support for the implementation of a monitoring, evaluation system, and research for the improvement of the vocational education and training subsystem.  Four performance indicators with targets were set -

- Building Management Systems (BMS) expanded from eight public FET colleges, to 50 colleges.
- an increase from 2 820 to 3 083 AET centres responding to an annual survey conducted by DHET
- a model implemented for all new FET college projects.
- 100% of private colleges complying with applicable regulations.

Program 5: Skills Development
Mr Maliviwe Lumka, Chief Director: Seta Coordination, DHET, highlighted the three strategic objectives and performance indicators for skills development. The first strategic objective was to provide a dynamic interface between the workplace and learning institutions and to promote quality learning at work by 2016. He focused on six performance indicators and targets for 2013/14:

- an increase from 25 000 to 26 000 artisan candidates entering nationally.
- an increase from 10 000 to 12 000 artisan candidates found competent.
- an increase from 8 500 graduates to 27 279 graduates receiving work integrated learning.
- an increase from 45% to 48% of national artisan learners passing trade tests.
- a scarce and critical skills list published.
- 21 Setas, with at least four partnership agreements.

The second strategic objective was to promote the alignment of skills development outputs to the needs of the workplace and to broaden the growth needs of the country’s economy. He highlighted two performance indicators and targets for 2013/14 -

-  all Seta’s strategic plans to be analyzed and approved by the Minister.
- four Seta engagements at forums.

The third strategic objective was the provision of funding to support projects that are national priorities in the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), Human Resource Development Strategy, and the support of the National Skills Authority (NSA) in its work. Three performance indicators and targets were highlighted -

- R2.4 billion earmarked to be spent on projects of national priority.
- 350 projects to be supported by the National Skills Fund.
- 40 000 learners receiving training in NSF projects.

Financial Information
Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, DHET, gave an overview of the Medium Term Expenditure Estimate (MTEF) for the period 2012/13 to 2015/16.  The Department's budget (excluding direct charges) would increase at an annual average rate of 7.8%, from R31.6 billion in 2012/13 to R39.5 billion in 2015/16. University education dominated expenditure, mainly as a result of the transfers to universities and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). These expenditure items represent 82.5% of the total budget (excluding direct charges) for 2013/14.

Ms D Rantho, (ANC, Eastern Cape) stated that in the absence of the Chairperson, Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)) the select committee must elect an acting chairperson. The committee elected Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) as acting Chairperson.

The acting Chairperson received the apologies of the Minister of Higher Education and Training and the committee Chairperson Ms Makagate and Prince M Zulu (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal). The Chairperson welcomed Mr Mduduzi Manana, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training to the briefing.

The Deputy Minister thanked the Chairperson and the Director General, Mr Qonde, and said he was thankful for the Department being able to take the Committee through the processes of the annual performance plan. He asked the Chairperson to excuse him at 10.30am, as he had to attend a Cabinet committee.    

The apology was accepted by the Chairperson and Committee.

The Chairperson stated that each member of the committee was entitled to five minutes only to ask their questions.

Ms Rantho welcomed the presentation but had concerns regarding the building of the FET colleges. People were moving closer to town in such great numbers that they would have an overflow of learners in the colleges. She asked if the Department had done a community survey for FET Colleges in the Mount Fletcher and Sterkspruit areas, as she was worried about it. The labour market was changing and she asked if there was a strategy to determine what skills the country needed. She was concerned that the standard of Maths Literacy had dropped in 2012/13, and asked what was being done about it.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga ) commended the building of new FET colleges.  She asked that the stability of the IT system and the poor support of the SETAS be explained. She asked how the regional offices contributed, and whether there was adequate preparation for the funding of university education.  Would it effect current universities?  What was happening on student funding and student housing funding?

Mr M de Villiers (DA Western Cape) noted that there was a shortage of boiler makers and asked what was being done to train artisans. How many vacancies in the Department were funded and how many were not funded? He requested information on the provision of student housing and how it was being addressed. He was expecting the briefing on the two new universities. Where did the students come from for the Adult Education programme.  He asked what the Department’s plans were, to supply 550 000 bursaries to FET college students. He asked that the 2013/14 distribution ratio of 80% to the SETAS and 20% to the National Skills Fund (NSF) be reviewed.

Mr. W Faber (DA Northern Cape) asked for clarity on the performance of the SETAS, and whether the NQF levels been changed. Were there any changes in the learnership programmes and what was happening with the Northern Cape University?  Would it be finalised on time?

Ms Boroto asked the Department if they had a new university policy and whether universities complied with grant regulations.

The Chairperson asked about the plan to achieve the target of 11 247 engineering science graduates, and whether there were any placement mechanisms for them. She noted that Gauteng had a higher level of unemployment, and asked if the Department had engaged with FET colleges and universities to create employment. There was an impasse between SETA and the Department of Water Affairs and Environment -- was DHET involved in solving the problem?   The number of Adult Education Advisers for Gauteng should be higher. She was concerned that labour brokers in Gauteng were forcing students to pay R150 to them in advance, otherwise they would not be accepted as registered at universities.

Mr Qonde responded to the questions of the individual members.

The Department did conduct research surveys in mapping out post-school training in South Africa for universities and FET colleges. A high concentration of post-schools were in urban areas and in the outlying areas, some students had to travel 350 km to get to a post-school training facility. The proximity of these facilities was related to other government programmes and the DHET would not be successful without other departments coming on board. A holistic approach was necessary in establishing new campuses.

Regarding labour market intelligence, he noted the Department lacked credible data to plan the supply and demand skills set. The Department had worked out a concept plan, with 14 sub schemes, with critical partners like the HSRC and all the university research bodies in South Africa.

Mr Qonde said that policies of South African universities were compatible with the those of the DHET. These policies were developed on the basis of guidelines from the white papers and related government policies, and these were based on the Constitution. Universities were autonomous institutions and the Ministerial Committee was set up to monitor transformation, as per the recommendations of the Soudien Report. In the main, the institutions had good policies and programmes but some of them were not expressed in terms of practice. The Department had held a summit of all stakeholders and established a Ministerial oversight committee, led by Professor Malegapuru Makgoba to get deeper into the problem.

The Government was spending R6 billion over the next three years in infrastructure spending.  R1.69 billion was provided for student housing grants and R1.4 billion for historically disadvantaged students.

The Department was engaging with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Association for Actuarial Science for the commitment of a further R3 billion for social development.

On the standard of education in the country, the Department was engaging in Foundation programmes to assist students entering universities. 

In terms of placements for engineering, this was a challenge and the Department was engaging with the various stakeholders.  This had led to the National Skills Accord setting targets for skills categories. On the engagement with large companies from abroad, the Department had programmes in which they opened up spaces for training and placements.

The DHET currently had over 200 students working in the Department who were on the employment programme. The Engineering Council of South Africa had been engaged about the FET college programmes for engineers. The DHET was serious in engaging the private sector about skills concerns in the labour market.

He noted that Examination information technology (IT) was the responsibility of IT Systems, and the technology was being continuously upgraded. IT infrastructure and equipment serving examinations was of a poor standard due to its age, and the Department was engaging SETA and the Inter-Governmental Committee to upgrade and implement it urgently.

Regarding the issue around SETAs and the NSF, 1 % of the personnel budget was a levy, split between what employers pay. Any change regarding these ratios would have to come through legislation being changed.

Electrical and mechanical trades were experiencing a serious shortage of skilled artisans. Grant regulation was to strengthen the learnership programmes and this was informed by SETA’s strategic plans.

New universities had been allocated R2.1 billion for development. The DHET had decided that development approval for the new universities was not “big bang,” but that they would rather be started incrementally. The people and programmes of the new institutions would be built over a period of ten years. In the Northern Cape, three programmes with a maximum of 50 students in each programme would be implemented. Human Resources would not be fully staffed from the beginning, but would be gradually built up. The Department had realised that accommodation in the Northern Cape was a problem and 80% of the students would be accommodated on campus. In Mpumalanga University, 60% of the students would be accommodated on the campus. The DHET had developed a new draft policy on new student accommodation which was to be implemented. The ideal was to work towards 60% to 80% of rural and disadvantaged students over a projected period of 20 years, and the funding for this had been found.

On the issue of the Central Student Application Service, the Department had not any heard reports of the labour brokers, and he requested more information so they could follow up on these incidents.

There were plans for a greater number of regional offices, and the DHET planned to roll out these in fiveprovinces.

The vacancies in the Department were 1 028 funded posts. Of these, 116 were current vacancies which would all be filled by the end of the year.

Referring to the drop in the Mathematics and Mathematics Literacy pass rate, Mr. Qonde said there had been no decline in the pass rate.

The DHET interventions were multi-pronged in terms of the capacity of FET lecturers, which were to be improved in colleges. New interventions were being implemented by the DHET to interrogate the results of each individual FET college and to make these colleges accountable for improving their own results.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had heard the challenges faced by the Department, and thanked Mr. Qonde for the briefing and his answers.

The meeting was adjourned.                 


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