Minister Angie Motshekga and Deputy Minister Enver Surty were present and Minister Motshekga kicked off the briefing session by providing members with insight into the efforts of the Department of Basic Education and the inroads that were being made to improve in basic education.
The rest of the briefing dealt with specifics on the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan: the performance indicators and targets for the five DBE Programmes: Administration; Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring; Teachers, Education, Human Resources and Institutional Development; Planning, Information and Assessment and Educational Enrichment Services. The Committee was also provided with an overview of the DB Budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework allocations.
The Committee engaged the Department of Basic Education on a wide array of issues. Some of the these were if there were fully equipped schools in low income areas and correct teacher placement in classes. Members were glad to hear that inroads were being made in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provinces since the implementation of the section 100(1)(b) constitutional interventions. Members however wanted assurance that the Department of Basic Education had mechanisms in place to ensure that provinces improved their fiscal and performance management responsibilities.
Members noted that the briefing was silent about school dropouts. DBE assured Members that dropout figures were on the decrease and that it mostly affected the higher grades, Grades 10 and 11.
Concerns were raised that research had shown that teachers from universities were not equipped to teach at primary school level, this was especially concerning given the shortage of teachers.
The Department of Basic Education was also asked if it was true that there were contract teachers who had not received payment for months on end.
Department of Basic Education (DBE) presentation
Minister Angie Motshekga and Deputy Minister Enver Surty were both present. The delegation from the DBE comprised of Mr Bobby Soobrayan Director General, Mr Themba Kojana Deputy Director General: Teachers, Education, Human Resources and Institutional Development, Mr Mathanzima Mweli Deputy Director General: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, Ms Gugu Ndebele Deputy Director General: Social Mobilisation and Support Services, Ms Ntsetsta Molalekoa Chief Financial Officer, Mr S (Paddy) Padayachee Deputy Director General: Planning, Quality Assessment and Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Anton Schoeman Deputy Director General: Administration, Mr Sifiso Ngobese Deputy Director: Strategic Planning and Reporting, Ms Nozipho Xulu-Mabumo Director: Safety, Enrichment and Sport in Education and Ms Kele Mohoebi.
Minister Motshekga, in her opening statement, said that the DBE was committed to providing a quality education to every child in South Africa. Some of the issues which the DBE was focussing on were curriculum assessment, curriculum workbooks and school infrastructure. The DBE was experiencing an upward trend even though against international benchmarks it might seem that the DBE was not performing. The rollout of annual national assessments at schools was a milestone in schooling. In the past only matric passes were used as a yardstick to assess. The annual assessments allowed for problems to be identified in the schooling system. She noted that issues of importance were teachers, time, task and text. The DBE had managed to increase the circulation of materials. In 2012 there was an 80% circulation of textbooks. Full coverage was hoped to be achieved by 2014. DBE also provided books to students free of charge. In 2012, 114 000 books had been distributed to schools.
In 2013 the DBE aimed to improve accountability. The challenges which the DBE faced were enormous but it nevertheless wished to improve its performance. The DBE used its Sector Plan as a framework in doing its work. The interventions made by DBE were starting to bear fruit.
The DBE also intended that schools should be required to furnish quarterly reports. School infrastructure was another important issue which required continuous attention. The DBE wished to eradicate all mud schools. The DBE would brief the Committee in the near future about its collaboration with big business in order to obtain more skills and support. A further aim was for every school to have a library by 2015. In 2013 the DBE HAD engaged in a collaboration framework with key businesses and non governmental organisations. A Special Education Trust was also being set up by the DBE and the Committee would receive a briefing on it in due course.
Mr Soobrayan continued with the presentation of the briefing document which consisted of Parts A to E:
Part A Contextual factors & sector performance:
There were progressive improvements, especially in Grades 9 and 12. Comparing the 2012 to 2011 National Senior Certificate results, confirmed improvement in quality, equity and quantity:
• 15 280 more bachelor passes
• Nine of the gateway subjects improved at 30% achievement level.
• Eight of the gateway subjects improved at the 40% achievement level.
• 17 937 more candidates passed Mathematics (at 30%)
• 13 175 more candidates passed Mathematics (at 40%)
• 13 477 more candidates passed Physical Science (at 30%)
• 8 967 more candidates passed Physical Science (at 40%)
• Increase in the distinction rate across key subjects.
• Of the 81 districts, only three performed below 50% (5 in 2011)
• Number of districts performing above 80% increased from 21 to 28.
• Gini coefficient decreased from 0.192 to 0.169.
Part B Strategic Priorities 2013:
• Focus on improving equity of learner performance
• Teacher development, deployment and utilisation
• Curriculum coverage
• Institutional and logistical capacity improvement
• Monitoring and reporting linked to performance improvements
• Reducing school infrastructure backlogs
• ECD and Grade R quality improvements leveraging on expansion
• Development and implementation of strategy to improve district support to schools.
• Inclusive education: improve quality, training of teachers, Braille work, assessment intervention
Part C National Development Plan:
The Action Plan of the DBE was linked to the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP acted as the cornerstone to formulating priorities in the sector. Good progress had been made by the DBE in alignment with targets articulated in the NDP, a review of targets, refinement of strategies and institutionalisation of interventions introduced to improve district support and performance, teacher development and performance, Learner performance and ECD will ensure increasing meaningful compliance with the NDP implications for the sector.
Further work needs to be completed in areas such as school management, distinction and improvement of partnerships with trade unions, learner retention post compulsory schooling and substantial improvement in learner eligibility for university entrance. [See document for more detail]
Part D Performance Indicators and Targets:
Performance indicators and targets were elaborated upon for each of the five programmes of the DBE.
Programme 1: Administration
The purpose of the Programme was to manage the DBE and to provide strategic and administrative support services. There was an internship programme in place and it was working well. Sixty internships were planned for the 2013/14 year as per the Annual Performance Plan (APP).
Programme 2: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring
The purpose of the Programme was to develop curriculum and assessment policies and monitor and support their implementation. On the number of subject advisers orientated in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements a target of 3000 was set for 2013/14 as per the APP.
Programme 3: Teachers, Education, Human Resources and Institutional Development
The purpose of the Programme was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. The intention was to have a comprehensive teacher human resource strategy to be developed. The target for 2013/14 as per the APP was to have an analytical report on teacher shortages, placement, attrition and entry to be compiled and to do an assessment of teacher supply and demand. The average age of teachers was around 45 years of age. The DBE wished to bring in teachers from different age groups. If some teachers who qualified for early retirement packages took packages, the DBE could consider bringing in younger teachers.
Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment
The purpose of the Programme was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment. The intention was the provision of valid and reliable data on learner performance in the Annual National Assessments (ANA) that would support the improvement of the quality of basic education. The target for 2013/14 as per the APP was to have a national assessment report on learner performance in ANA disaggregated into 9 provinces and districts.
Programme 5: Educational enrichment services
The purpose of the Programme was to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. One of the performance indicators set was the number of learners benefiting from the Integrated School Health Programme. The target for 2013/14 as per the APP was to have 750 000 learners.
Part E Overview of the Budget and MTEF
Expenditure increased from R7.9bn in 2009/10 to R12.9bn in 2011/12 and the allocated budget increase from R16.3bn in 2012/13 to R17.5bn in 2013/14 was expected to continue growing over the medium term to reach R23bn in 2015/16. The spending focus over the medium term would be on infrastructure funding in the form of transfers to provinces through the education infrastructure grant, and payments for capital assets for the school infrastructure backlogs conditional grant, where the DBE would take responsibility for the delivery of the projects. These grants accounts for the bulk of spending increases over the medium term, particularly spending in the Planning, Information and Assessment Programme to further accelerate the delivery and improvement of schools infrastructure.
2013 MTEF allocations for 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 were R20.3bn; R21.3bn and R22.3bn respectively. Members were also provided with a breakdown of allocations per programme and per economic classification for the years 2012/13 and 2013/14.
The Chairperson asked if there was a change in the trend of learners moving from public schools to private schools. Were there now fully equipped public schools in townships?
Minister Motshekga did not consider private schools a problem. The public schools system still comprised 96% of the education sector. Only 4% was taken up by private schools. The problems were mainly to be found at public schools. She conceded that there was a shift in students from public schools in townships though not to private schools but rather to other public schools found in more affluent suburbs. For example students from Soweto were attending schools in Lenasia. There were various reasons why students attended private schools. Some of the reasons could be religious or special needs. The aim was to find stability in public sector schools. In the Gauteng Province there was stability in public schools. The problem in Limpopo and other provinces was small schools which were also multi-grade schools. These types of schools did not allow for effective teaching. In the Northern Cape the DBE had placed pupils in a boarding school and a vast improvement was seen in the performance of pupils. Boarding schools could solve the problem of having to travel long distances to get to school. Poor leadership at township schools needed to be addressed. The DBE wished for schools to consolidate and rationalise. There were still many schools in outlying areas in provinces which had too few students per class. For example in the Eastern Cape there was a two-student school. The biggest problem in the public sector was stability. The DBE had good policies in place, the challenge was in their implementation. What would help was if parents took responsibility and if principals were held accountable. The difficulty was in getting the balance right.
Deputy Minister Surty pointed out that there were several examples of good public schools.
Mr Soobrayan added that a research study had shown that there were many successful poor township schools.
Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) said that the DBE aimed to have the “right teachers in class” and was making efforts to meet the resolution. In terms of the South African Schools Act, school governing bodies would recommend teachers and the provincial departments would appoint them. What was the extent of the DBE’s involvement in the appointment of teachers? On what basis did provincial departments employ teachers? How did the DBE intend to get the correct matching?
Ms Mncube said that the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme was a good intervention of the DBE. It was focused in rural areas where it was needed. She asked how placements were taking place. Different provinces had different placement strategies. Was there a mechanism in place to ensure that teachers were placed where they were needed in the provinces? What mechanism did the DBE have to ensure that provinces practised fiscal discipline? She referred to the DBE’s National School Nutrition Programme and asked for confirmation that it had been extended to secondary schools. What happened when a learner passed matric and no longer received the school meal which he or she needed? Did the DBE bring the issue up with the Department of Social Development?
Minister Motshekga on the issue of the Eastern Cape Province said that the province had a budget of R21bn. It was much more than the DBE’s budget of R7bn. She did point out that there was progress with stability in the Eastern Cape. Fundamentals were being put in place and what the province now needed was support. On the matter of books in the Eastern Cape, the process was ongoing and would only be resolved within two years.
Deputy Minister Surty, referring to the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme, noted that teachers who graduated were being deployed. Districts played an important role in nominating candidates for the Bursary Scheme.
The issue of nutrition was being looked at in collaboration with the Department of Social Development. There was however no quick fix, it was a process. A Nutrition Programme was being developed.
Mr Soobrayan said that the DBE had a directorate which monitored provincial budgets and expenditures. Reports were then provided to the Minister and Deputy Minister. There was thus active engagement with provinces. Prior to the national government’s interventions in the Limpopo and Eastern Cape Provinces, the DBE and National Treasury had raised concerns about those provinces. On nutrition, government was working on a food security strategy.
Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape), referring to the Eastern Cape, asked if there were plans and a budget set aside for proper administration in the province. How long would it be before the Eastern Cape once again operated on its own? The DBE for Grade 12 had set a pass rate target of 73.9% for 2012. The target for 2013 had been set at 74%. Why had the target not been increased to say 85%?
Ms Rantho said the number of Grade R classes had increased hugely in SA and in the Eastern Cape. She asked if the DBE felt that the training of Grade R teachers was yielding better results. Were there improvements? On the matter of inclusive education, she commented that it could not be easy to train teachers in Braille. What was the DBE doing to assist learners with disabilities? Was a budget set aside for disabled learners?
Minister Motshekga stated that inclusive training figures for Grade R teachers were the highest in the Easter Cape. There was also a good Early Childhood Development programme in place. Things however worsened in the higher grades. There was good progress from Grade R to Grade 3 in the Eastern Cape. She noted that figures showed that the Eastern Cape was leading, followed by Kwazulu-Natal. The Western Cape apparently only ranked fourth.
Deputy Minister Surty said that the Eastern Cape Province had many peripheral issues which affected the learning of pupils. National government had to intervene to assist on issues of stationery, textbooks and nutrition. At first the Province was opposed to the intervention by government but as time went by the intervention was welcomed. The capacity of the Province had been developed. Transportation, nutrition and procurement of books had been addressed. The filling of teachers’ posts was a challenge and would take more than six months to resolve. It was a lengthy process. He added that the conversion of the intervention in terms of the Constitution from section 100(1)(b) to a section 100(1)(a) intervention was on the horizon.
He noted that the Eastern Cape was the only province which still had mud schools. The reason was because of poor provincial governance.
There was a turnaround plan for Administration in the Eastern Cape Province. The problem lay with human resource capacity.
He noted that inclusive education had always been a challenge. A positive was that workbooks were provided in Braille. More than 154 000 teachers had been trained in the foundation phase. Challenges were huge but workbooks were necessary. Schools needed to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Previously there had been no screening of learners. At the foundation phase grades screening and immunisations were taking place.
Mr Soobrayan referring to the matric pass rate targets of 73.9%, 74% and 75% set for 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively and pointed out that the DBE intended to revise targets that had been set. The focus was not purely on percentages but also on the content ie mathematics.
Mr Soobrayan added that over the past two years the DBE had done work on catering for persons with disabilities but the intention was to do much more.
Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) asked if the DBE collaborated with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on the deployment of teachers where they were needed to teach certain subjects. What mechanism did the DBE have for provinces to improve financial management and performance management? Inclusive education was a challenge. How did the DBE intend to tackle blockages with inclusive education for 2013/14? How many technical schools and technical teachers were there in SA? What were the qualifications of technical teachers?
Deputy Minister Surty said that technical schools were mostly utilised in the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Northern Cape Provinces. Conditional grants were available but funds remained unspent. Progress was nevertheless being made on technical schools. Literacy and numeracy was the responsibility of provinces. The DBE had made provision for 52 million workbooks. The workbooks were used by all provinces. Private schools even asked the DBE if they could use the workbooks.
Mr Soobrayan stated that the DBE did work with the DHET. There was strong collaboration. The DBE also worked closely with municipalities.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli Deputy Director General: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, pointed out that there were 960 technical schools of which 86 were private the rest were public schools. He spoke to inclusive education and said that it might seem that not much progress had taken place. There were a total of 22 schools for the blind which were equipped with Braille tools. Teachers were also being trained in Braille. Capacity building of subject advisers had started and would continue.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) noted that the briefing had been silent on school dropouts. Research apparently had shown that for Grades 10-12 there was a 50% dropout rate. She asked if the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan addressed the dropout rate. Did the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan deal with Early Childhood Development and had a budget been set aside for it? Members still received reports of textbook shortages in the Limpopo Province. Did the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan aim to address this?
Minister Motshekga responded that she set up policies and monitored them. She was not responsible for the actual buying of textbooks. As a Minister she set standards and monitored those standards. The budgets for textbooks lay with the provinces. She added that some of the questions asked by members should be directed to provincial departments as on certain issues she had no power.
She emphasised that the dropout rate was a huge concern for the DBE. The DBE needed to identify where it was happening. It was prevalent amongst youth between the ages of 16-18 years of age. Social issues like pregnancy, drugs and crime contributed towards students dropping out of school. The failure rate increased in Grades 10 and 11. The DBE had embarked on doing assessments through all the grades. The dropout trend in South Africa was not that much different from countries like the United Kingdom and United States of America.
Mr Soobrayan reiterated that the DBE was concerned about student dropouts. There were problems with dropouts but he felt that the media exaggerated the problem. Dropouts were most common in Grades 10 and 11. However the trend over the past few years was that dropout figures were decreasing. Government however had a policy in place for alternative pathways when learners were not in school. The DBE and the DHET worked closely on it.
Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) stated that if the pass rate in mathematics and science was 30%, what plans were being made to increase the pass rate. The DBE intended to improve the training of early childhood practitioners, was the plan to increase the number of Grade R classes at primary schools. Grade R teachers when qualified should be deployed at schools. If the DBE had a plan with regards to having the correct quality of teacher at the right school teaching the correct subject, did the DBE have the relevant information on each and every school in the provinces? Given the shortage of teachers what plan did the DBE and the DHET have to address the problem. He noted that the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) had stated that research showed that 20% of teachers stayed absent on Fridays and Mondays. What was being done to address the phenomenon? He asked if there was engagement between the DBE and the DHET on the curriculum that was being taught at universities to teaching students. Research apparently showed that teachers taught at universities were not equipped to teach at primary schools. He referred to the out phase of Dinaledi schools with the withdrawal of conditional grants and asked if there was a plan in place to fill the gap.
Deputy Minister Surty, speaking on Dinaledi Schools, said that many schools had taken the project for granted. The pass rate was between 30-40% which was not good enough. Conditional grants had been withdrawn by provinces because of continuous non delivery.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) referred to the training of teachers by the Department of Sport and asked how it was progressing. It had come to his attention that contract teachers’ contracts had been shortened. He asked if it was true and asked what the length of the contracts now was. He felt that the shortened contracts were surely to demoralise contract teachers. It might just cause contract teachers to look for greener pastures. Were they standard contracts? In the Northern Cape there were contract teachers that had not been paid for five months. They were afraid to complain for fear of losing their jobs.
He pointed out that the DHET provided the Committee with percentages on outcomes. The DBE only stated that the Grade 12 pass rate was 74%. The Committee needed percentages for each grade. Pass rate percentages targets need to be set for each grade.
Minister Motshekga emphasised that it was not the DBE who paid teachers. Provincial departments paid teachers. The DBE could however engage with provincial departments via the Provincial Coordinating Unit on this.
Deputy Minister Surty explained that ANA provided for the diagnostic assessment of learners in various grades. The assessment took into account the particular school, the district and the province. ANA results should be part of the school improvement plan. ANA results should also be provided to parents. ANA also allowed for targets to be set for Grades R to 9. Every learner would be tested on literacy and numeracy.
Ms Ndebele informed the Committee that the training of teachers in sport was continuing. It was especially taking place at Foundation Level in the lower grades.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was interested in Early Childhood Development. Issues such as resources and learning materials and how the DBE was improving on it was of interest to Members.
Deputy Minister Surty noted that each Grade R class had a workbook. Previously no qualification was needed for Grade R teachers. At present there was a level 4 qualification requirement. The DBE would however be happy with a level 6 qualification. Curriculum, resources and development programmes were made available to practitioners.
Mr Soobrayan added that 94% of kids attended Grade R classes. The issue was about providing quality education.
Mr Kojana said that there was a strengthening of the administrative process for principals. Strengthening of subject advisors was also taking place.
The Chairperson noted that the reality was that public schools were not resourced, teachers were not committed and principals were also falling short.
Minister Motshekga said that it should be the exception that schools were not functioning. She reiterated that things could not change overnight. As many as 75% of schools did not have libraries. Many schools also did not have laboratories.
The investment in Early Childhood Development at foundation grades like Grade R was good. The problem was that there was no sustainability of the investment that the DBE was making.
The meeting was adjourned.
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