Teacher vacancies; Procurement, delivery & retrieval of textbooks/workbooks: DBE progress reports

Basic Education

27 May 2013
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Teacher vacancies: The focus of the Education Human Resource Planning Framework was to guide efforts to provide the right quality and quantity of teachers and support staff, with the right qualifications and competencies, in the right positions, at the right time. The objective of the framework was to enable the education departments to meet the teacher and support staff human resource needs resulting from their strategic plans.

A major concern of the MPs was that the number of temporary teachers had increased over the years. The employment of temporary teachers averaged about 11% compared to the 3.4% attrition rate, which suggested that other factors impacted on the rate of permanent appointment of teachers. Reasons for that were excess teachers were in urban areas and were not where the posts were located, often in very rural areas. If an excess teacher was not available, then DBE appointed a temporary teacher in this rural area until such time it was able to transfer an excess teacher. DBE said that a vacancy as shown on the system in reality was not a class without a teacher because a temporary teacher was in place until such time as a qualified teacher could be appointed permanently.

The success rate of placement of Funza Lushaka graduates had improved over the years. 66% were placed between January and March this year, and 91% last year. The reason that 100% were not placed was that the Eastern Cape had excess teachers and the responsibility was to permanent employees first. Members raised concerns at the large number of foreign educators in the system. DBE explained that foreign educators from Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries were appointed to address the shortage in scarce skills subjects such as mathematics and science. They were employed in terms of the quota permit system specifically to teach mathematics and science and technology.
 
Procurement and delivery of LTSM: In 2012 the Minister, Deputy Minister and MECs resolved at a Council for Education Ministers that by 2014 every learner must have a core textbook in every subject for every grade. The Department wanted  universal coverage to CAPS-aligned textbooks, which was why the Department was talking about 2014. Many a time this matter was misunderstood because if one went to school it was discovered that not all learners had a core textbook for each subject in each grade. The Minister was interacting with the Minister of Finance to ensure that come 2014 there would be universal coverage in every subject for every learner. In terms of the way forward, the Department planned to:
- Strengthen planning to bring timeline for delivery forward to give remediation of shortages more time.
- Using Annual National Assessments, NSC and Workbooks data sets to enhance credibility of Education Management Information System (EMIS) data.
- Increase surplus order from 5% to 10% to cater for migration, late registration and late submission.
- Implementing strong penalties against publishers who failed to comply.
- Increase textbook retrieval rate by introducing incentives and punitive measures.
- Implementing strong sanctions against officials and principals who did not carry out their responsibilities.
- Appoint more warm bodies to monitor and support provincial education departments (PEDs).
- Implement an electronic monitoring system at PED and DBE level.
- Providing ICT solutions for Braille.
- Building the capacity of the State to print and deliver LTSM.
Many countries printed and distributed textbooks at a very low cost. Maths and Science textbooks that in the market cost R200 to R300, the DBE was printing and delivering for R44.

Members commented that accountability for the delivery of books had to devolve to the principals of schools, otherwise the accountability was diluted.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the report on teacher vacancies was directly linked to the Committee’s oversight visit to Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape to monitor school readiness in those provinces. On the second progress report on delivery of outstanding textbooks and workbooks, she said it was no use the Department delivering books each year when there was no policy in place, as discovered with the textbook challenges in Limpopo. The Committee had recommended that there should be a retrieval policy in place.

The Committee Secretary reported that apologies had been received from the Minister and the Director General. The Chairperson welcomed Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) as a new Member to the Committee, replacing Mr Skhosana.

Mr Mathanzima Mweli (Acting DDG: Curriculum) led the delegation consisting of Mr Themba Kojana (Acting DDG: Teacher Development); Ms Simone Geyer (Chief Director: Education Human Resource Management); Mr Allan Subban (Director: Performance, Curriculum); and Ms Khulula Manona (Chief Education Specialist).

The Chairperson expressed disappointment that the presentation document on Teacher Vacancies had only been received that morning. Mr Kojana apologised, saying he understood it had been sent through the previous afternoon.

Teacher vacancies: progress report
Ms Simone Geyer, Chief Director: Education Human Resource Management, said the purpose of the Education Human Resource Planning Framework was to guide the development and management of policy for the provisioning, utilisation and employment conditions of teachers and support staff. It aimed to guide efforts to provide the right quality and quantity of teachers and support staff, with the right qualifications and competencies, in the right positions, at the right time. The time period was five years. The objective of the framework was to enable the education departments to meet the teacher and support staff human resource (HR) needs resulting from their strategic plans.

The attrition rate remained stable at and average of 3.5% (approximately 13 000 educators) annually over the period 2007/08 to 2011/12.

Managing teacher supply involved ensuring adequate supply of teachers with required skills and other competencies at all times; and ensuring their optimal utilisation in an effective and efficient manner.

Age distribution peaked between the ages of 30 and 59, the largest numbers in age 40 to 49, which meant an aging teaching corps and if plans were not put in place to ensure getting a younger generation, in the next 15 to 20 years there would be a fast exodus of teachers.

In terms of the qualification profile:
- A provincial disaggregation showed that 85% of all Relative Education Qualification Value (REQV) 10 educators were in Kwazulu-Natal.
- Employment of unqualified teachers in high numbers could point to a hidden shortage in that it suggested that the system could not recruit suitable qualified educators.
- It was not a shortage of teachers but a shortage of teachers who were prepared to teach in rural areas.

The reason KZN had the high percentage of unqualified teachers was because it was the biggest area with the most rural of schools and it was difficult to find teachers to go into those areas.

The greater percentage of teachers was in the category REQV 13 and REQV 14.

A major concern was that the number of temporary teachers had increased over the years. The employment of temporary teachers averaged about 11% compared to the 3.4% attrition rate, which suggested that other factors impacted on the rate of permanent appointment of teachers. Reasons for that were the steps that had to be followed around the filling of posts; and there were still problems of excess teachers for repositioning on an annual basis. Excess teachers were not where the posts were located, the posts were often in very rural areas and the excess teachers were in urban areas. If the Department could not allow for the movement of an excess teacher it then appointed a temporary teacher in a rural area in a temporary capacity until such time it was able to transfer an excess teacher in that area.

Measures to reduce the number of temporary teachers included the efficient redeployment of excess teachers; frequent advertising of vacancies; conversion from temporary to permanent; the permanent appointment of teachers, including bursars; recruitment of graduates and assisting them to acquire a professional teaching qualification.

Funza Lushaka graduates had to be placed as part of the Department’s contractual responsibility. This reduced the number of vacancies and also affected the number of excess teachers. A vacancy as shown on the system in reality was not a class without a teacher because a temporary teacher was in place until such time as a teacher could be appointed permanently.

The success rate of placement of Funza Lushaka graduates had improved over the years. 66% were placed between January and March this year, and 91% last year. The reason that 100% were not placed was that the Eastern Cape had excess teachers and the responsibility was to permanent employees first. Graduates that applied to go to the Eastern Cape were asked to reconsider and go to KZN.

Foreign educators from Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries were appointed to address the shortage in scarce skills subjects such as mathematics and science. Given that the majority of foreign educators were employed in terms of the quota permit system specifically to teach mathematics and science and technology, it was clear there were shortages of local educators qualified to teach those subjects. The foreign educators were employed on a temporary basis, the moment a Funza Lushaka graduate or a fully qualified teacher became available, that foreign educator would be replaced.

Ms Geyer explained the process for filling of vacant posts:
- Posts were declared at the end of September of each academic year.
- Educators, including Deputy Principals and Heads of Department, were identified in schools that had excess posts.
- Provincial departments filled vacancies first by considering the excess teachers and with Funza Lushaka graduates that normally took the first quarter of the new academic year.
- For the remaining vacancies for teachers they could opt to use section 68(A) of the Employment of Educators Act (EEA) to convert their temporary teachers to permanent.

Those mechanisms meant the posts did not have to be filled through a bulletin or an advertisement.

- Vacancy lists for entry-level teachers were scarce since the above processes could first be exhausted.
- For promotional posts once redeployment had been completed, a vacancy list was published in the second and last quarter and filled the first and third quarter.
- Through proper planning, which the Education Human Resource Planning Framework and the strategy on recruitment and placement of educators addressed, Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) could forecast exiting the system (retirement) and ensure posts were filled in advance of a teacher leaving.

Mr Kojana added that to support the framework DBE developed a strategy that talked to two processes:
1) around building stability in the system in terms of the declaration of post management. The Department learnt from the examples of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. One of the key issues in Limpopo was HR matters; those matters had been dealt with. There were 2400 excess educators that needed to be placed, as of last week it was reported that the number was currently 68. That was due to a collective agreement that the declaration of posts is dealt with over a period of two years. The MEC would declare the post position for Limpopo in the coming year. That practice was also in KwaZulu-Natal. The strategy was that provinces could choose in which range they could declare the establishment. Gauteng and the Western Cape would declare their post establishment on an annual basis because of the pressure point. The Department wanted to deal with proper management, redeployment, replacement of educators.

2) around the placement of Funza Lushaka graduates. There was a lot of investment and there should be vigorous attempts to place Funza Lushaka bursars; 66% had already been placed, which was a huge step in the right direction. A strategy was also developed to recruit prospective teachers from the rural areas.

An information booklet was distributed, which was a guide for Members to speak to in their constituencies.

Discussion
Ms N Gina (ANC) was interested in foreign educators vis-à-vis Funza Lushaka graduates. The percentage increase of foreign educators in the Western Cape was 316% and the placement of Funza Lushaka was 48%. That showed investment was not where it should be. There were so many teachers that needed to be placed; yet teachers were brought in from other countries.

Ms Geyer explained looking at the number of Funza Lushaka graduates that came out per year and the number of vacancies in provinces or the number of teachers required, it could be seen that insufficient graduates were coming out to the number of teachers required; that affected the number of foreign teachers employed. In certain provinces, such as Western Cape, it had to be looked at very closely to understand what was happening around the fundamental increase because it was a large percentage. There were no clear answers to why such a high number of foreign teachers were employed in the Western Cape.
 
The Department thought one way to assist the problem of placement in the rural areas was to take learners from that area that would go back and teach in that area. The bursary offered that they could apply to any university, so they did not have to go to the nearest university. The Western Cape had three universities so many of the bursars were placed there. After the experience of living four years in the Western Cape, it was found they only applied for schools in the Western Cape and not in the rural areas. The Department needed to be more prescriptive and was looking to change the contract to say if they came from that village they had an accountability to go back to that village for a certain amount of time. That had to be balanced against the Constitution. Possibly a better way would be to say all teachers should do time in a rural area as part of their training, similar to what the doctors had to do. That would mean accommodation would have to be in place so part of the infrastructure would have to look at housing opportunities for teachers. DBE could not restrict which universities the bursars could go to as it had to get as many teachers into university as possible.

The remaining graduates that were not yet placed applied where they were not needed. They would be asked to work in the rural areas.

Ms Gina asked how long a teacher that was declared surplus should remain in that position without movement to supply a post where it was needed most?

Ms Gina noted that teacher supply envisaged required skills and ensuring optimal utilisation in an effective and efficient manner. How was it ensured that a teacher was utilised in what he or she was trained for? Although she had secondary school qualifications, most of her life was spent at a primary school; she was not used optimally and efficiently. Teachers who had not studied science were teaching science just because the learners had to have a teacher. How would that be corrected?

How many teachers were needed in the system, the needs of scarce skills mathematics and science teachers, what were the plans, and what was the shortfall in the system?

Ms Geyer responded that the Department was able to establish from the Persal system how many teachers it had, and looking at the attrition could tell how many teachers were leaving and give an indication of what the requirements were. It was currently not able to read the profile of the teacher on Persal and state that those teachers were utilised correctly, which was why the Department was working very vigorously on profiling teachers so provinces could capture that information in the Persal code so that the Department could read that off the system. If DBE was able to do that it would be better placed to give the Committee an analysis of the correct usage of teachers.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) understood the training of teachers was outside the competence of the DBE, it was Department of Higher Education, competence and the DBE received the finished product. Yet in the framework the objective was to produce quality teachers while Higher Education had to implement. The statement that no system was better than its teachers was true. The budget was good but children continued to be badly taught because of the quality of our teachers. The bulk of teachers, especially at primary school where they had started as unqualified teachers and improved their qualifications through correspondence, lacked the contact of being taught by a lecturer or teacher. He doubted that those teachers received quality training. He suggested that teacher training should not be done through correspondence; it was not producing quality teachers.

Mr Mpontshane would have liked to know the number of Funza Lushaka graduates, what their qualifications were, especially in terms of scarce skills.

Ms Geyer responded that DBE had data on the mathematics and science teachers. Due to the Funza Lushaka bursary the Department was aware of how many people stayed in particular areas. When the bursaries first started there was not a correct allocation in terms of the need. Currently the DBE could tell exactly how many people were offered bursaries and one was not allowed to get a bursary if it was not in the critical areas required.

Mr N Kganyago (NDM) said in the past the Colleges of Education produced sufficient teachers for our schools. Currently they took a degree followed by a postgraduate diploma, which he thought was too highly educated for primary schools. Did the DBE consider going back to training colleges?

Mr Kojana responded that there were institutions such as the College of Education in Mpumalanga and another one that was mentioned in a previous sitting.

Mr Kganyago asked whether the DBE did anything to make it attractive for Funza Lushaka graduates to teach in the rural areas?

Mr Kojana responded that there was a policy in place to attract teachers to those areas.

Mr Kganyago believed there should be a qualified remedial teacher in every school. Learners had problems, to condone was not to correct. Guidance teachers were also very important.

Dr A Lovemore (DA) said her questions were all linked to guiding efforts to provide the right quality and quantity of teachers and support staff. In the NEEDU report, Dr Nick Taylor reported that many of the foundation phase teachers did not have the subject knowledge to teach and could not impart what they did know to their learners. That was not quality. How did that report inform what the DBE did with respect to interaction with the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and the training they were giving to our teachers, which, it seemed from Dr Nick Taylor, was not resulting in quality teachers?

Mr Kojana responded that was around the integrated strategic framework for teacher education and training. There was a forum wherein DBE interacted with higher education institutions and the DHE in looking into progress in teacher education and development; on plans to provide ongoing support for teacher education. Further response would be provided.

Dr Lovemore asked how many mathematics teachers the DBE had in the North West? How many mathematics teachers were in training and would go to the North West; and how many mathematics teachers would be needed in North West in five years time? The MEC in the Eastern Cape in his budget speech in March of this year indicated the number of teacher vacancies in the Eastern Cape at 8 800. The report tabled said vacancies in the Eastern Cape at February were 5 454, a difference of 3000. Her question was underpinned by figures that did not tie up. Did the DBE know how many teachers were needed per phase per subject per area based on a properly calculated learner: teacher ratio?

Dr Lovemore said she did not care about trends, all she cared about was that every child had the right teacher in front of them at all times, and with a class size that was acceptable, not like some in the Transkei with 173. She asked what trends the DBE had that it had not shared with the Committee?

Ms Geyer explained that trends were useful to tell the story of what was in the system. If one could not read that people were leaving for purposes of resignation and did not put in place an exit interview for those teachers then they would never know the reasons they left, what was the age and what was the attraction. Similarly the DBE had an aging corps, it needed to understand the health of that aging corps and whether they would be healthy enough to reach age 65. The DBE needed to understand the trends in order to understand the interventions that had to be put in place or policies to be introduced to address those trends.

Dr Lovemore said the Funza Lushaka system was not working. Close to the end of May, graduates were not yet placed. Anyone not placed at the end of March had no contractual obligation to the DBE whatsoever. If not placed within three months after graduation they had no contractual obligation to the DBE whatsoever, which meant 1 027 graduates were lost. Assuming it took four years for the degree, in 2009 the DBE allocated 9 141 Funza Lushaka bursaries and 3 053 were available for placement, that was 22% success rate. That was not a return on investment and not an answer to the shortage of teachers. She asked the DBE to expand on why it thought Funza Lushaka was working and what it intended to do to make it work.

Mr Kojana replied that there had been an increase in the placement of Funza Lushaka bursars. 91% was for the whole of last year, 66% was for the three months January to March. In 2012 there was vigorous placement of the Funza Lushaka graduates by the DBE; it was the focus of the DBE, and the DBE was reporting to the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) almost every meeting about the placement of Funza Lushaka bursars.

Mr D Smiles (DA) noted from the presentation that human resource planning was essential to ensure an organisation’s human resources were capable of meeting its operational objectives. The DBE was not meeting its operational objectives. South Africa was not happy; the DBE was not meeting delivery in the classroom. Filling a vacant post proved ability to deliver the curriculum. As a coordinating body, as a monitoring body for PEDs, what was the strategic direction the DBE gave them on the filling of vacant posts? He did not hear that DBE was in control as a coordinating body to ensure that provincial departments took care of filling of vacancies, as they should.

Mr Kojana responded that the DBE developed guidelines on HR right from the school level to the district to the provinces. He would provide the Committee with those guidelines in order to support the placement of teachers in schools in provinces and districts. To say what had to be done from the identification of a teacher that was excess.

Mr Smiles referred to temporary teachers. The attrition rate was 3.4% and the average temporary teachers 11%, so there was an estimate the DBE could count on. He did not see any budget for that. Teachers in Lady Grey and Barkley East left because they were not paid. In Ugie teachers could not be appointed because the infrastructure did not have enough classrooms. 2000 learners in a dilapidated school; it was a budget and an infrastructure problem. When speaking of temporary teachers, it was not only a matter of numbers but also of budget.

Mr Kojana explained that non-compliance in implementing resolutions was a problem because if posts were declared in September, there would be vacancies in those schools that needed teachers. There were schools that would lose learners. There would be an environment where after the posts were declared by the MEC then in January, September or October the school would know what the school’s establishment looked like. That would determine the number of vacancies the school had. Due to the pressure points experienced in the Eastern Cape of the non movement of excess educators, it created an environment that made DBE come up with guidelines to assist the Eastern Cape department, in particular, through section 100(1)(b). He noted that the compensation of employees was high in the Eastern Cape. If there was the situation where teachers were supposed to move from school A to school B and did not move to school B, the DBE was forced to employ a temporary teacher in school B where there was a need for a teacher. The DBE came up with mechanisms working with the Eastern Cape department in saying it was impossible for a proper placement of educators, to have educators that were not moving. That was the current situation in the Eastern Cape where there were robust numbers of excess educators. Teachers were moving schools without due authorisation. It was only now that DBE started to see stability in that educators moved into the posts that were currently vacant, especially in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Smiles looked at the filling of vacancies and the processes that had to be followed. He did not see teachers’ bulletins that had to go out at a certain time. What was the DBE doing to ensure that PEDs issued bulletins regularly?

Mr Kojana said there could not be bulletins in the Eastern Cape currently. There was a closed bulletin that assisted teachers to move from point A to point B. The system was started within a district to say that within that district which schools required certain types of educators. So movement was between district A to district B. That caused a lot of problems between the DBE and the unions because compensation of employees was high within the province.

Ms A Mashishi (ANC) asked what plans were in place for the Funza Lushaka graduates that were not placed, especially those qualified with mathematics and science? Was there a database of mathematics and science teachers?

Mr Kojana responded that before speaking about the shortage of mathematics or language teachers the DBE had entered into a rigorous system of profiling all educators within the system. Once educators in the system were profiled the DBE would then be able to understand the needs. The need was only located at the level of the school. If there was a shortage of a mathematics teacher in school A, the school would be given an opportunity to have that mathematics teacher. Through the system of profiling all educators in the system, one would then be able to identify the need.

Ms Mashishi supported Mr Kganyago on teacher training colleges. He thanked DBE for the information guide booklet and asked whether it had plans to advertise in the media to get young people interested in the teaching profession?

Mr C Moni (ANC) noted that in 2011, 15 981 temporary teachers were employed in KwaZulu-Natal. Why did KwaZulu-Natal need so many temporary teachers? He noted that the number of foreign teachers employed increased steadily from 2008 to 2011. He understood that foreign educators would be replaced when suitably qualified teachers were found so why were the numbers increasing? He asked for clarification of the acronym REQV?

Ms Geyer said it stood for Relative Education Qualification Value, an acronym to say what the teacher’s qualification was.

Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka said some teachers moved from one school to another because of certain problems. In the past houses were allocated to teachers recruited from outside a rural area. An army school in Pretoria was in a compound and single teachers were given accommodation; not married teachers. Was that a policy of the DBE and was it aware of what was happening there?

The Chairperson asked for clarity on Correctional Services teaching, people there were being educated.

The Chairperson recalled a meeting in April last year between the DBE, DHE and Umalusi, both had to speak to their needs and speak to each other. Earlier in the year she had a meeting with principals from different schools within the Port Elizabeth area. They came from the former Model C schools. In terms of Funza Lushaka, they said that the majority of those students came from the local universities which did not offer scarce skills subjects. They could not get mathematics or science teachers from university, the universities only taught standard subjects. She wondered if the DBE was monitoring that. The Chairperson said in the past a teacher with a degree had only one year in the field. With teacher colleges, that started from the first year. Did DBE speak to the universities as to how it felt about the product? The Chairperson congratulated DBE about NEEDU. NEEDU was an independent structure put in place by the DBE and its findings came from NEEDU to the DBE.

Mr Kojana responded that it was important to reflect on the NEEDU Report. It was asking a fundamental question – whether teachers could not or would not. The DBE responded to that report, whether it dealt with issues of accountability or of teacher development. It was important to indicate the initiates in the DBE around teacher development. The DBE was speaking to the trade unions. There were programmes it ran with them around the foundation phase; numeration in the foundation phase; and the DBE could see what lessons were learnt through collaboration to deal with assisting educators in schools.

Mr Mweli indicated that the Committee had asked about 45 questions.

The Chairperson replied that they were all interrelated and were about quality and quantity. Due to time restraints, those questions not answered could be sent in writing by Thursday 30 May.

Mr Kojana responded on what the DBE could do to provide ongoing support to teachers in schools. There were a number of initiatives, such as better utilisation of the centres in the country and how best they could be utilised to provide the ongoing support as opposed to the two days training those teachers went through. Should we have an institutionalised approach to provide that support to teachers? Beyond that the DBE entered into collaboration to promote teacher education and development within the Department. The DBE worked with the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA), where in the independent schools learners were identified to go to university. The learner was in a school but registered with a higher institution.

Mr Kojana agreed there were issues that needed to be dealt with more comprehensively: the profile of the Funza Lushaka bursars, and teacher education and development. There remained a further two presentations. He asked for guidance as to how that would be managed at this meeting.

The Chairperson referred to the foundation phase and said it was important that the DBE come back to speak to the Committee about the training of teachers. Being taught at university or college was different. If one was taught at university there were problems when it came to getting down to the level of the child. Therefore it had to be very clear how the training of foundation phase was being done. Training should be longer. The DBE spoke well in terms of demand and supply, the past trends and the future in ten years time; identification of an aging corps and the importance of introducing younger teachers into the system. The Chairperson was concerned to hear that the Western Cape did not need Funza Lushaka, the other provinces did. The Eastern Cape always seemed to have temporary teachers, how did the DBE balance all that up? Trends were good, she was happy to hear of attraction and retention and such policies being put in place. Mr Smiles had referred to budget. Substantive posts were budgeted for, teachers must be put there because there was money. Let the teacher be in the system for the required term before becoming permanent because that could be done. However the question on the budget was premature because that would be in the annual report under HR where it was specified for staff or officials being absent a certain amount of money was spent. When it came to excess, it sounded good to say moving our teachers but many a time the principals would say it was not according to their needs, they may need a mathematics teacher but there was an excess teacher with Afrikaans. Profiling was good but she would like more added into that. Besides mathematics and science and technology scarce skills, remedial teachers and psychologists were also important. An integrated approach with other departments was needed. The DBE had not responded on Funza Lushaka’s value for money, two Members spoke about the investment. In terms of the conditions and the Bill of Rights, she suggested DBE stipulate in the contracts that if the bursars were expected to teach in rural areas, they would have to go to the rural areas.

The Chairperson thanked the officials; there was a vast improvement in HR strategy.

Mr Mweli said the last three months with the Committee had been developmental and were beginning to bear fruit. Dr Lovemore had referred to the NEEDU Report, that the biggest problem was concurrent functions. The Chairperson had previously committed to engage on the matter and perhaps a workshop was required.

Procurement and delivery of Learner/Teacher Support Material (LTSM)
Mr Mweli updated the Committee on the delivery status of textbooks and workbooks.

Delivery status textbooks and workbooks
In 2012 the Council of Education Ministers took a resolution that by 2014 every learner must have a core textbook in every subject for every grade. This was woefully oblivious that there were many learners in the system that did not have a core textbook in every subject. The Swaziland Report in 2007 indicated that our textbook coverage was 45% compared to Swaziland’s 85%. In the Minister’s budget speech the Minister reflected on the fact that with the progress made textbook coverage was increased. With the introduction of workbooks our coverage moved from 78% to about 80%.

Why 2014 for universal coverage? The introduction of Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) aligned textbooks started in 2012 with foundation phase and Grade 10; and 2011 Intermediate Phase and Grade 11. In the foundation phase and Grade 10 it must be universal coverage. 2013 Intermediate Phase and Grade 11 must be universal coverage. In a previous meeting Members noted they had come across learners that did not have textbooks in every subject in every grade. That was because the DBE was aligning universal coverage to CAPS, which was why the DBE was talking about 2014. Many a time this matter was misunderstood because if one went to school it was discovered that not all learners had a core textbook for every subject in every grade. The resolution was taken in 2012 and the Minister was interacting with the Minister of Finance to ensure that by 2014 there would be universal coverage in every subject for every learner in every grade. Delivery of textbooks as at April 2013 indicated that nationally the delivery of textbooks stood at 98.1%. Mr Mweli explained that it was not delivery to schools; it was delivery of textbooks. Learners in the Intermediate phase and Grade 11 textbook delivery and provision stood at 98.1%. Delivery to schools was at 99.9%. The majority of provinces reached 100%. Two provinces reflected shortages, not a reflection of non-delivery.

Some of the main reasons for shortages were:
- Lack of capacity from especially independent publishers to deliver on time.
- Some of the publishers were not registered on PEDs Supply Chain Management database.
- Some of the publishers were slow to collect orders from PEDs.
- The impact of the SATAWU industrial action in meeting deadlines.
- Lack of credibility and reliability of Education Management Information System (EMIS) data. 2014 used 2013 data so there were discrepancies, and parents did not register their children in time.
- The development and release of the addendum catalogue for titles that did not receive enough submissions.
- Exceptionally heavy rains in some areas made some of the roads inaccessible.
- Threats and litigation challenges in provinces such as the Eastern Cape by the Legal Resources Centre.
- Inward and outward migration of learners. Parents thought they could take their children from one school to another at any time and on arrival at the new school expected to be given a new pack of stationery.

In terms of the remediation of shortages, provinces set up call centres to which shortages were reported. In some provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo surplus stock was kept at a warehouse to address deficiencies. Other provinces such as Gauteng made additional funds available to address shortages. The LTSM oversight was extended to include district officials who were responsible to report on shortages.

Mr Mweli turned to the remediation of shortages reported by the Portfolio Committee. The challenge of the Eastern Cape was it was engaged in central procurement for the first time. Central procurement meant buying for everybody. That gave the power to negotiate to get more books paying slightly less than if paying as an individual school. Even Section 21 schools were encouraged to form part of that. Some of them made in-and-out sort of arrangements that delayed the process. Eventually the majority bought into the arrangement, which was why the media stated that only some schools received their textbooks on time.

In respect of Limpopo, shortages were around the Grade 11 mathematics and science Siyavula textbooks that the DBE printed and delivered with the Mark Shuttleworth Foundation. There were problems with Government Printers that could not meet their time frames. The DBE was encouraged to use Government Printers, especially in terms of value for money, but unfortunately there were delays and delivery happened much later than expected.

In the case of KwaZulu-Natal remediation did happen, the DBE did not get specifics and as a result of that the province did not get details.

In the Northern Cape the problem was manifest mainly in the Olifantshoek area. For Grade 11 and below learners that had no schooling last year,  all of them were expected to repeat those grades. Large numbers of learners were repeating grades and there was pressure from the neighbouring villages such as Kuruman moving into that area. That had resulted in huge shortages that were unexpected.

Examples of evidence of delivery for the list of shortages in schools raised by the Portfolio Committee was provided in the presentation, full evidence was provided in a file for the attention of the Committee.

In terms of correcting the record reported in the City Press. Through the DBE Communications Unit and through the facilitation of the Press Ombudsman, the DBE was able to correct what was reported by City Press, particularly in Limpopo, on shortages that had been long remediated and City Press acknowledged that. City Press subsequently amended their report.

In terms of monitoring and reporting, the Basic Education sector plan and PEDs plans provided the basis for monitoring and reporting. All deliverables were captured in the sector plan. Officials from DBE visited districts and selected schools to monitor delivery. The DBE also provided regular reports to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency on its plans and delivery rate. A comprehensive report was submitted to the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission. The DBE reported to the court in respect of the Section 27 court case and reported to the Education Portfolio Committee and the NCOP Select Committee on Education at regular intervals.

Referring to preparations for 2014 LTSM delivery, Mr Mweli said the Basic Education Sector Plan was issued in October 2012 for provinces to develop their plans aligned to the Sector Plan. Most provinces complied and had started to report progress. The intention was to complete LTSM deliveries by October 2012 and November 2013 to January 2014 to mediate shortages.

The National Catalogue for Grades 7-9 and 12 was completed and released to provinces on 28 March 2013; provinces had started the selection of titles and procurement.

Retention and retrieval
Retrieval was a huge problem. Some of the schools, particularly in Limpopo, were asking for surplus stock because they had problems with retrieval. Some asked for surplus stock because they had little faith that the DBE would come to the party when they requested top ups. Some principals worked on reserves so that in difficult times they could draw on their reserves.

- A circular was issued in 2012 to all provinces/schools to encourage schools to increase the textbook retrieval rate.
- The draft Policy on Retention and Retrieval was currently going through internal processes for gazetting. It linked retention rate to incentives for schools.
- The DBE was liasing with provinces to provide a report on the percentage of 2013 textbook retrievals.
Data collected represented 26% of districts and the retrieval rate was 90%. The retrieval rate should be at least 98% or 99%.

Workbooks
DBE’s printing of workbooks started as a very small project but was now a very large one. In 2012 the consignment increased by more than double. Delivery was at 99.2%, with data credibility being a problem because the data of the outgoing school financial year was used.

In terms of solutions, the DBE planned to:
- Strengthen planning to bring timeline for delivery forward to afford remediation of shortages more time.
- Using Annual National Assessment (ANA), National Senior Certificate (NSC) and Workbooks data sets to enhance credibility of EMIS data.
- Increase surplus order from 5% to 10% to cater for inward and outward migration, to cater for late registration, and late submission.
- Implementing strong penalties against publishers who failed to comply, including stopping them from doing business with government.
- Increase textbook retrieval rate by introducing incentives and punitive measures.
- Implementing strong sanctions against officials and principals who did not carry out their responsibilities as expected. The Minister had already spoken to principals, saying that principals that gave wrong information to the media, including officials that did not carry out their responsibilities, must be disciplined.
- Appoint more warm bodies to monitor and support PEDs.
- Implement an electronic monitoring system at PED and DBE level.
- Provide ICT solutions for Braille.
- Build the capacity of the State to print and deliver LTSM. The Workbooks project, the Maths and Science Project, the Mind the Gap Study Gap Project, provided evidence that the State could print and deliver stationery and textbooks. Many countries printed and distributed textbooks at very low cost. The Maths and Science textbook that in the market would cost R200 to R300, the DBE was printing and delivering at R44.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Mr Mweli for the very comprehensive report. She noted inconsistency when it came to retrieval - there was punitive action, when it came to the others, it was sanctions, discipline. She would like to see consistency.

Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka appreciated the incentives and also punitive action and sanctions. She asked if children were required to pay if they did not return their textbooks and, if so, what happened to this money?

Mr Mweli suspected that schools were making learners pay; Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka had reminded him to go back to schools to find out what happened to that money collected.

Dr Lovemore believed the presentation was disingenuous and totally misleading. The commitment made by the Minister was for universal coverage of textbooks by the end of 2014, not the beginning of 2014. The target for universal coverage of textbooks was taken out of the Annual Performance Plan, so for the year 2013/14 the DBE had not committed to any level of delivery of textbooks. The DBE put in a lot of commitment that it could not adhere to, such as committed to budget for punitive measures and incentives. All that was provincial concurrent function, the National DBE could not budget for the provinces. The report delivered to the Human Rights Commission was done on delivery versus what was ordered, not delivery versus what was required.

Mr Mweli responded that what was reported to the Human Rights Commission was no different to what was reported to this Committee and to other committees. Commitments that were made, the DBE got concurrently from various levels of the system; usually commitments of that nature were commitments of the sector. For that reason the Minister was engaging the Minister of Finance for money to support provinces, because this commitment was made at the Council of Education Ministers. Whether by the end or beginning of 2014, the CEM said there must be universal coverage. Whose competency is it? Ideally it should be the competency of PEDs. There were so many functions that were the competency of PEDs but the DBE had lost that fight. In terms of concurrent functions, whose responsibility it was at this level and whose responsibility it was at that level. Whatever was national priority was pursued up to the lowest level. The DBE worked with provinces and did everything with and through provinces but the national DBE drove the exercise.

Dr Lovemore asked if the DBE knew what the penetration rate of textbooks was. The reference made today was 78% penetration rate. That 78% referred to a 2011 school monitoring survey, which had still not been published, and which looked only at Grade 6 language and mathematics books. Did the DBE know what the penetration rate was when measured per learner having a textbook for that grade for that subject in his or her own hands and that he or she could take home?

Mr Mweli said Dr Lovemore was correct. But in terms of the supplementary results of 2007, mathematics was 36%, physical science about 30%, and the overall coverage about 45%. Apart from the survey conducted in 2011 there was no readily available data to say what the level of coverage was. For that reason it was aligned to CAPS delivery of textbooks, and it wanted universal coverage with CAPS aligned textbooks. Ms Manona would give more information on that at the next meeting.

Dr Lovemore said the second slide on Solutions talked about centralisation of functions, about more warm bodies to monitor and support PEDs, which should not be the case. If Provincial Education Departments were not doing their job then why are the warm bodies that were currently in the PEDs not being held accountable? Accountability was needed, not an inflated bureaucracy.

Mr Mweli reminded Dr Lovemore that the mandate of DBE was policy development, monitoring and support. The warm bodies were intended to strengthen DBE’s responsibility and those areas where it was lacking, to monitor and give feedback quickly; to be able to respond to questions posed in Parliament and provide accurate information.

Dr Lovemore was adamant that the core business of the DBE was not printing and delivery of textbooks. That was for the publishing industry. Her immediate concern was ideology. There was a danger that books on subjects such as history which was open to interpretation, would be given a governmental interpretation. The core business of the State was not to print and deliver LTSM, why was the DBE looking at that? Dr Lovemore did not believe that the DBE had the expertise or that it was a division that it should be developing.

Mr Mweli agreed that the core business of the DBE was not printing and delivery of textbooks. The onus to provide quality text remained the responsibility of DBE and PEDs. DBE developed the catalogue, provided leadership and support and monitored what provinces were doing. Currently both PEDs and DBE were of the view that they could provide quality text on a universal level by taking on that responsibility.

 Mr Kganyago said it was disturbing to see on TV or hear on the radio an argument between a learner and a DBE official. When the learner was asked whether there were books at school the learner said no, they were not delivered, and she shared a book with someone to do her homework. The teacher supported the learner. Then the DBE official would say they were lying, they were delivered. Something was wrong. He understood there were shortages and there were problems, but DBE could not make a blanket statement.

Mr Mweli said the DBE would try to improve communication. The main beneficiary was the learners and they would be listened to. He acknowledged that currently there was not universal coverage and there were still learners sharing textbooks. The aim was come 2014, there must be universal coverage.

Mr Mpontshane said delivery was a huge responsibility and he understood it was linked to the admission policy. He asked whether the centralisation of textbook delivery was linked to the introduction of CAPS, and when CAPS was fully implemented, the delivery would devolve down to provinces. Provinces wanted to do away with the two types of schools, section 20, which was managed by the DBE, and section 21 schools that managed their own finances, when ordering books. Accountability for the delivery of books had to devolve to the principals of schools, otherwise the accountability was diluted.

Mr Mweli agreed that delivery of textbooks was a huge enterprise. Principals would always have a role to play but for the DBE to have universal coverage of quality text it would need to get the full benefit of buying on economy of scale. That was done through centralised procurement in order to have the power to negotiate reduced prices. Quality text but every learner must have a core textbook.

Mr Mpontshane supported the elimination of third parties in the ordering of books, and asked whether the DBE was anywhere nearer to that?

Mr Mweli agreed, money was wasted through subsidiaries. This year in Limpopo, the DBE saved more than R150 million by buying stationery direct from the manufacturer.

Mr Mpontshane enquired about the involvement of Early Solutions in the delivery of books. Did they have an impact in the non-delivery of books?

Mr Mweli said to the best of his knowledge they still had a contract in KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng.

Ms Gina asked for clarification of universal coverage by 2014, and who had committed to that? There was no central point where Members could get a national picture but they had to rely on reports from provinces. She felt that would always be a problem. A coordinated system was needed where Members could know what was happening nationally.

Mr Mweli clarified universal coverage. Universal coverage meant every learner having a core textbook in every subject for every grade. Not all textbooks – a core textbook.

Mr Mweli agreed, one of the concluding points said the DBE needed an independent electronic monitoring system to look into systems used by schools, to be able to check which schools were ordering and what they ordered. The Human Rights Commission impressed on the DBE that it must have that system in terms of procurement and delivery of books.

Mr Mweli responded that one of the weaknesses of the DBE was its inability to communicate successfully. He acknowledged that sometimes the way information was put in the media led to wrong interpretation.
 
Ms Gina commended the Minister's announcement of the introduction of African languages in all public schools next year and was happy that African languages would get the recognition they deserved. What were the plans for that as come next year they would need textbooks and learner workbooks – how far were the preparations for that? She suggested the DBE return with a presentation on this.

Mr Mweli agreed there should be a session on IOA (Introduction of African Languages) to share what was happening and the DBE’s plans for next year.

Ms Gina referred to the DBE vis-à-vis publishers, and the Central Catalogue issued by DBE. While the core business of the DBE was not to print books but to teach, she applauded the DBE for saving a lot through these books that were credible and validated as being so. The whole issue was around the books in the catalogue and how the pool of publishers in the catalogue was chosen, and vis-à-vis what the DBE produced. One had to consider value for money and also the expense for the child.

Mr Mweli said the issue of publishers vis-à-vis the DBE required another workshop. The DBE was convinced that the route it was taking was the right one. The DBE was expected to provide quality education. Quality text was central to providing quality education, and doing that with a full coverage of textbooks. With the current arrangement, it would take years for this country to do that. The DBE was of the view that the international experience was behind it. There would always be a role for publishers. The DBE was printing core textbooks. Supplementary books would always be purchased through booksellers, who got them from publishers.

The Chairperson asked if DBE was able to budget for the amount of money spent on correcting the record with City Press? That was not part of the DBE’s budget and would be unauthorised expenditure.

Mr Mweli explained that the Ombudsman got DBE and City Press together. Usually if the media acknowledged that it did not present the correct record, that would be corrected at the media's expense. According to information received from the spokesperson, the DBE did not have to pay for anything because the article was published without information the DBE made available to the journalist, and they chose to publish the article without including the information given.

The Chairperson said time was taken to investigate and to respond, and copies had to be made. Mr Mweli said the DBE would work out the cost.

The Chairperson said the presentation on the teacher grant was forwarded the previous day at 2.53pm and sent to the Committee Secretary at 15h13. Yesterday was too late as Members would need to get emailed documents by the previous Thursday at the latest for a Tuesday meeting.

The Chairperson commended the DBE on the model it was using for tracking. It was important to have this. There would always be shortages of books because when it came to admissions, and the principal could have been confused on what was ordered. The Committee was happy that the DBE had a draft policy on retention and retrieval of books, and was also pleased with the acknowledgement that the cost driver was the learner. A previous chairperson had a hearing on access to quality education. It had to be asked whether the infrastructure, the sanitation, and water were the core function of the DBE, but it was said to be part of quality education. LTSM also led to quality education. It was important to keep in mind that teachers, remedial teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, were all important factors in terms of access to quality education. A workshop would be discussed. The Committee would be seeing the DBE again when it presented the budget and the Annual Report. She thanked the DBE for the deliberations. The DBE would have to come back; it had given timelines and the Committee would check those timelines.

She was excited that newspaper reports said schools in the Eastern Cape had for the first time received books before the schools closed; that was an achievement for the DBE. She was aware there was a concurrent national-provincial function but she did not think that should hinder the DBE. DBE gave provinces an equitable share. She wondered who monitored the implementation of policies at national level. One should not blame the concurrent function but rather see how to cooperate with each other. The Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act spelt that out. Currently it was only the Presidential Coordinating Committee going down to local government, but each department was supposed to have such a coordinating committee in place in terms of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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