The Director General of Basic Education said that after supplementary examinations were written, the 2012 overall pass rate increased from 73.9% to 75.6%. Limpopo increased from 66.9% to 70.8%. With the overall improvement of 2% there was also an improvement in quality because access to bachelors studies improved. The overall improved pass rate confirmed that the DBE was capable of attaining its targeted pass rate of 75% in the 2013 NSC examinations. The 2012 pass rate for Grade 12 mathematics was 54%, which was an improvement from 46.3% in 2011. The pass rate for Grade 12 physical science was 61.3% compared to 53.4% in 2011.
The target for schools having access to library information services was 60%, the latest available data was 51% (2011). Minimum standards were considered as having access to at least a central school library, or a mobile library, or classroom libraries.
On the target of learners having a textbook for each subject, the focus in 2012 was on textbooks ordered and delivered by Provincial Education Departments to schools for the grades implementing the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) in 2013 (Grades 4-6 and Grade 11). For these grades, 99.4% of orders were delivered to schools for learners. Schools in the main did not have a book retrieval policy, resulting in about a 20% loss. In many schools it was 100% loss. The Department was working rigorously to ensure that a retrieval policy was implemented. The DBE had printed workbooks at a very reasonable price for 2013 academic year, which allowed it to buy more books for the same amount of money.
Of major concern was the aging teacher population. A major percentage of teachers fell into the 40 - 59 age group, which meant in ten years time close to 50% of our teachers would be in the 50 – 59 age group, which was the age group where people started retiring. That was an important matter and the ratio of that bulge in proportion to the rest of the system had to be decreased. It was therefore a key policy of the Department to bring younger teachers into the system. 8 227 teachers were recruited during the 2012 academic year and 11 715 bursaries were awarded via the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme.
The target for schools complying with a very basic level of school infrastructure was 92%; the 2011 indicator stood at 55%. The target was incredibly high and as the Department implemented, it picked up more and more backlog. One had to take into account a whole lot of factors, including budget, the State capacity to spend the budget, the capacity of the private sector, the availability of raw materials, and the effectiveness of contractors in the different regions. A realistic baseline would be 55%.
Mr Soobrayan stressed the importance of measuring the percentage of children who turned 9 in the previous year and currently enrolled in Grade 4 (or a higher grade), which was 62%. The challenge of dropouts had to be monitored constantly. Focusing only on Grade 12 results would not give a sense of what was happening throughout the system. The Department wanted to measure whether there was repetition in dropouts. In terms of the age of admission, when a child turned 9, that child ought to be in Grade 4. As the majority of children in Grade 4 were turning 9 it meant the system was working with a good repetition and dropouts were low. It was pointless having a high NSC pass rate while children were falling out of the system. After a survey of all 9 year-olds in the population, DBE checked how many of those children were in school and how many of those were in Grade 4. That gave a sense of whether the system was healthy in terms of progression. The target of 63% was high because some could have turned 8 or 10 in Grade 4. The 62% confirmed there was not a big problem of dropouts up to about Grade 9 and there was no serious problem of repetition.
The total Final Appropriation budget for the Department for the 2012/13 financial year was R16 203.9 billion. Total actual expenditure amounted to R14 801.4 billion. Overall expenditure rate was 91.3%.
In reply to a question on the shortage of teachers, the DG responded that it was not a case of a general teacher shortage but of mathematics and science teachers. The big problem was excess educators that had to be managed, and the big problem was the bulge of the 40 to 49 year olds, if nothing was done about it in about ten years time, that bulge was going to hit you hard and would continue to do so for about ten years. The Department was working with provinces and the idea was to introduce a system where teachers, especially those that were not in shortage subjects, would be asked to consider taking early retirement to create vacancies. They could take early retirement at an early age so that the DBE could begin to put people into those vacancies to have a better spread. A 50 to 60 year olds bulge must be eliminated and replaced with a 20 to 30 year olds bulge. It was a very complex issue and the DBE committed to respond in writing. The DG emphasised that the Department had not started that process yet as it was considering options and that was one of the options. It was not policy at this point.
Much discussion centred around the need for school libraries, whether they were mobile libraries or corner libraries, but as long as the learners had access to libraries and information services.
The delegation consisted of Mr Bobby Soobrayan (Director General); Ms Carol Nuga-Deliwe (Chief Director: Strategic Planning and Coordination); Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa (Chief Financial Officer); Mr M Mweli (Acting DDG: Curriculum); Mr S G Padayachee (DDG: Planning, Information and Assessment); Ms G Ndebele (DDG: Planning and Delivery Oversight Service); and Mr Y Bhana (Deputy Director: Strategic Planning and Support). Apologies had been received from the Minister and the Deputy Minister.
Mr Bobby Soobrayan (Director General) presented the Fourth Quarterly Report 2012/13 until end March 2013. The Department reported against the Annual Performance Plan (APP) as confined to the budget of the DBE and not the entire sector. The presentation was substantial because the Department wanted to make available as much detail as possible.
Part A: Key Sector Developments, Performance Indicators and Targets
The programme structure was derived from the Department’s Delivery Agreement of Outcome 1: Improving the Quality of Basic Education and the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025. That programme structure drove the plan (APP) and the budget. It was in line with the budget structure and in line with the programmes contained within the Annual Performance Plan.
▪ Programme One: Administration
Its purpose was to manage the Department and provide strategic and administrative support services.
Programme 1 Outputs:
- 350 officials attended Skills Development and Training Courses.
- The number of internships implemented for unemployed graduates in the Department was 87.
- The internship programme was very successful. 34 of the 87 interns who completed the internship programme were employed.
- Reports highlighting South Africa’s role and participation in multilateral bodies and international affairs in educational activities were compiled biannually.
- Four reports on the legal cases instituted against the Basic Education Sector by type and province were compiled on a quarterly basis.
- A report on legal cases concluded in the-Education Sector by type and province was compiled.
▪ Programme Two: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring
Its purpose was to develop curriculum and assessment policies and monitor / support their implementation.
Mr Soobrayan turned to the Sector performance: National Senior Certificate (NSC). After supplementary examinations were written, the end of the year 2012 results and supplementary exams 2013, the overall pass rate increased from 73.9% to 75.6%. Limpopo increased from 66.9% to 70.8%. With the overall improvement of about 2% there was also an improvement in quality because access to bachelors studies improved. The overall improved pass rate confirmed that the DBE was capable of attaining its targeted pass rate of 75% in the 2013 NSC examinations. In terms of Programme 2 Outputs:
- 4 513 schools had access to electronic content.
- 4 Foundation Phase Interactive workbooks were completed.
- The e-Education strategy had been developed but had not yet been approved due to weaknesses in the implementation plan. A team was established with added capacity to ensure that the policy was realised in the next financial year.
- 4 003 teaching professionals were orientated according to CAPS.
- 151 teachers and officials were trained in multigrade teaching.
- In the 2012 Annual National Assessments (ANA) 57% of learners achieved above 50%. The Department succeeded from a very low baseline. The country had set an ambitious target because the status quo was unacceptable.
- In numeracy, 36% of learners achieved above 50%.
- In the 2012 ANA; 39% of learners achieved above 50% in home language, which was an increase on the 2011 ANA performance of 15%.
- In the 2012 ANA, only 11% of learners achieved above 50%, which was significant under achievement.
- In terms of Grade 9 learners, a baseline for language and mathematics had not yet been established because the assessments were new and the Department was working to establish a credible baseline. 39% of learners achieved above 50% in home language and 21% in First Additional Language (FAL). 2% of learners achieved above 50% in mathematics.
The target for Grade 12 learners who became eligible for Bachelors programmes at university was 149 000. In 2012 a total of 136 047 Grade 12 learners became eligible for admission to university and 15 280 more passes were achieved in 2012 than in 2011. The target was set in discussion with the Presidency at a number, not a percentage. At the time the target was set, it was assumed that the learner population would increase, but over the last few years the learner population declined due to demographic factors. There was a decline in the birth rate; there were policy implications in the system, such as the age of admission policy. As a result it was difficult to achieve that target. Although the percentage increased, the absolute number was below the target.
The pass rate for Grade 12 learners that passed mathematics in 2012, including supplementary examinations, was 54%. The pass rate for Grade 12 learners that passed physical science in 2012 (including supplementary examinations) was 61.3 compared to 53.4 in 2011. The pass rate for learners obtaining a National Senior Certificate, after supplementary examinations, was 75.6%.
51% of schools had access to library information services. Minimum standards were considered to be having access to at least a central school library, or a mobile library, or classroom libraries.
On the target for learners having a textbook for each subject, the focus in 2012 was on textbooks ordered and delivered by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) to schools for the grades implementing CAPS in 2013 (Grades 4-6 and Grade 11). For Grades 4-6 and Grade 11, 99.4% of orders were delivered to schools for utilisation by learners. Schools in the main did not have a book retrieval policy, resulting in about a 20% loss; although in many schools it was 100% loss. The Department was working rigorously to ensure that a retrieval policy was implemented. For the 2013 academic year the DBE printed workbooks at a very reasonable price, which allowed it to buy more books for the same amount of money.
665 246 learners were recorded on the Kha Ri Gude database. The programme completion rate was 93%.
56 district offices had officials trained in the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support Strategy (SIAS) for the reporting period. 211 schools had teachers trained in SIAS. This assessment enabled learners with barriers to learning, to be identified at an early stage so that these barriers could be mitigated in good time. Earlier intervention improved the chances of the children to meet their potential.
87.8% of Grade 1 learners received formal Grade R.
▪ Programme Three: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development
Its purpose was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. One of the main functions of the DBE was policy development, and the establishment of programmes for implementation, which was why in the APP there were guides, strategy documents and policy documents. Programme 3 outputs included:
- A comprehensive guide to available professional development programmes was established on the DBE website. A catalogue of 150 short courses offered by Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in priority subject areas was developed and placed on the DBE website and circulated to all stakeholders for placement.
- Teacher development courses in key subject areas were available at the National Institute for Curriculum and Progress Development (NICPD). The DBE developed a short course for Foundation Phase and Intermediate Phase in English First Additional Language (EFAL) in collaboration with the British Council. A catalogue of HEI short courses was drawn up and placed on the DBE, PED and stakeholder websites. These included Senior Phase Science and Mathematics courses. First drafts of the diagnostic assessment were ready for piloting.
Of major concern was the aging teacher population. A major percentage of teachers fell into the 40 - 59 age group, which meant in ten years time close to 50% of our teachers would be in the 50 – 59 age group, which was the age group where people started retiring. That was an important matter and the ratio of that bulge in proportion to the rest of the system had to be decreased. It was therefore a key policy of the Department to bring younger teachers into the system. 8 227 teachers were recruited during the 2012 academic year and 11 715 bursaries were awarded via the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme.
Programme Four: Planning, Information and Assessment
Its purpose was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment. Its outputs were:
- The ANA 2012 learner performance report was printed and the Minister released results on 3 December 2012. This report was a very powerful diagnostic tool used across the system to assess weaknesses and deficits that guide interventions, that guide teacher development, and guide schools to understand where learners were experiencing serious challenges in their learning. The ANA report was an integral part of the policy to conduct annual assessments. The emphasis was on utilisation of ANA results.
- 92% schools complied with a very basic level of school infrastructure. The target was incredibly high and as the Department implemented, it picked up more and more backlog. One had to take into account a whole lot of factors, including budget, the State capacity to spend that, and the capacity of the private sector, the availability of raw materials, and the effectiveness of contractors in the different regions.
- 85% of learners were in schools that were funded at the minimum level. Those provinces that encountered financial problems, those problems impacted on the level of funding available to schools. The Department wanted that monitored very strongly because poor schools in particular, and all schools, depended on funding in line with policies for them to function properly.
Mr Soobrayan stressed the importance of measuring the percentage of children who turned 9 in the previous year and currently enrolled in Grade 4 (or a higher grade), which was 62%. The challenge of dropouts had to be monitored constantly. Focusing only on Grade 12 results would not give a sense of what was happening throughout the system. The Department wanted to measure whether there was repetition in dropouts. In terms of the age of admission, when a child turned 9, that child ought to be in Grade 4. As the majority of children in Grade 4 were turning 9 it meant the system was working with a low repetition rate and dropout rate. It was pointless having a high NSC pass rate while children were falling out of the system. There could be children out of school that the Department did not have a handle on, therefore the Department used General Household Surveys, which was StatsSA data, so that the measure was on all 9 year-old children in the population. The Department checked how many of those children were in school and how many of those were in Grade 4. That gave a sense of whether the system was healthy in terms of progression. The target of 63% was high because some could have turned 10 or 8 in Grade 4. The 62% confirmed that there was not a big problem of dropouts up to about Grade 9 and there was no serious problem of repetition.
Similarly, the percentage of children who turned 12 in the previous year who were currently enrolled in Grade 7 (or a higher grade) was at 66.9%.
▪ Programme Five: Educational Enrichment Services
Its purpose was to develop policies and programmes to improve learning quality in schools. Its outputs:
- According to the Department of Health, 652 258 learners in schools in all provinces underwent screening.
- 9 159 773 learners were fed a nutritious meal daily under the National Schools Nutrition Programme.
- 16 838 public ordinary schools were linked to police stations in the country.
- 8 842 public ordinary schools were reported by PEDs to have participated in the South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE) at district, provincial and national level.
- 7 612 public ordinary schools were reportedly registered in school sport leagues.
- A total of 415 schools were benefiting from the Adopt-a-School Programme linked to the NEDLAC Accord on Basic Education (under the auspices of the QLTC).
Part B: Fourth Quarter Financial Report on Vote 15: Basic Education
Fourth Quarter Expenditure
The total Final Appropriation budged for the Department for 2012/13 was R16 203.9 billion. The majority of the budget (R11 980.9 billion) consisted of transfer payments as follows:
- Conditional Grants: R11 246,5 million
- Transfers to Public Entities: R714.2 million
- Other transfers: R20.1 million
The remainder of the budget (R4 223.0 million) consisted of the following:
- Compensation of Employees: R252.3 million
- Examiners and Moderators: R12.9 million
- Earmarked Funds: R1 471.8 million
- Specifically and Exclusively Appropriated: R2 065.0 million
- Departmental Operations: R264.7 million
- Departmental Projects: R156.0 million
The amount of money available to the DBE was very small and the amount of money available for operations was R264 million. Total expenditure in the sector was about R180 billion, DBE spend on salaries R252 million, and another R264 million on operations. Total actual expenditure of the Department amounted to R14 801.4 billion (91.3%).
Most budget items spent in the 97% to 100% bracket. The big problem was in the School Infrastructure Backlogs Indirect Grant (37.5%) and Projects (74.6%). Earmarked grants all had very high expenditure rates.
Reasons for deviation per programme:
Programme 1: Administration (98.35)
- Mainly due to savings with regard to office accommodation budget and the unitary fee payment based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which fluctuated. A further reason for under spending was as a result of vacancies, of which many were filled in the latter part of the year.
Programme 2: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring (98.7%)
- Mainly due to delays with regard to procurement of the LTSM for the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign class of 2013. The classes for the Kha Ri Gude project resumed in June annually.
Programme 3: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development (95%)
- Moderators appointed in respect of the IQMS project were appointed on contract and due to resignations of moderators as and when they found permanent appointment, resulted in the allocation on the compensation on the project not fully utilised.
- Late approval of the budget for teacher training in collaboration with teacher unions. Approval was received in October 2012; the project implementation could only resume in January 2013 due to the October/November examinations, allowing a very short period of time for implementation before the end of the financial year. Some programmes continued into the new financial year. Due to the late start invoices were still being received in the last week of March. Some could not be processed due to errors.
Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment (83.8%)
- National Treasury approved an allocation of R10 million per province to appoint environmental specialists to enhance capacity in their Infrastructure Units. KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape provinces did not appoint any environmental specialists and transfers in this respect were not made.
- The School Infrastructure Backlogs indirect grant underspent on the allocated budget as a result of capacity challenges amongst implementing agencies and contractors. Some contractors’ contracts were cancelled due to non-delivery. Adverse weather conditions and poor road conditions also contributed to slow delivery.
Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services (99.6%)
- Under spending on this programme was due to funds withheld for the HIV and Aids, Dinaledi Schools and Technical Secondary Schools conditional grants to Limpopo Province due to low spending.
Reasons for deviation per economic classification:
- Compensation of Employees (97.1%): Under spending was as a result of the revised organisational structure of the Department. However, most of the key posts were filled during the financial year.
- Goods and Services (96.5%): Under spending was attributed to a change of procurement model for LTSM in respect of the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign as well as budget approval for training of teachers in respect of Teacher Union Collaboration only received in October 2012. Project implementation resumed in January 2013 due to the October/November examinations allowing a very short period of time for implementation before financial year-end. Some programmes continued into the new financial year. Due to the late start, invoices were still being received in the last week of March, and some could not be processed due to errors.
- Interest on Rent and Land (100%)
- Transfers and Subsidies (99.7%): Under spending was mainly on conditional grants. The HIV and Aids, Technical Secondary Schools recapitalisation and Dinaledi Schools conditional grants under spending was as a result of transfers to Limpopo province withheld due to low spending. Education Infrastructure Grant transfers of R10 million each to KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape provinces were withheld. These amounts were allocated to the provinces to appoint environmental specialists to enhance capacity in their Infrastructure Units; the two provinces did not appoint any environmental specialists.
- Payment for Capital Assets (38.1%): Mainly due to low spending on buildings and other fixed structures. Spending was lower than expected due to some contractors not delivering on projects allocated to them; their contracts were terminated. Adverse weather conditions and poor road conditions also contributed to slow delivery of the project.
Strategic interventions implemented during the 2012 academic year were being consolidated during 2013. Gains made as illustrated by the NSC and ANA results would be leveraged to further improve learner performance.
Working in collaboration with PEDs, in addition to Teachers, Text and Time, focus would continue to be on, amongst others:
- Implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements as well as monitoring curriculum coverage to ensure outcomes were achieved;
- Consolidating the Workbooks programme through monitoring utilisation and providing support;
- Enhancing teacher development and accountability through the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Framework for Teacher Education and Development and collaboration with Unions; and
- Using the results of ANA and the NSC examination to inform the support needed to be provided to schools to improve learning.
DBE’s interventions responded to the recommendations contained in the National Development Plan.
As reported, where performance was below what was expected in terms of performance, that was the performance of provinces and interventions were devised to focus on those provinces that had serious challenges related to performance, and in particular focusing on those districts that had challenges with performance. Interventions were evidence based in terms of supporting schools that had challenges around functionality to ensure that all their basic functionality was ensured, and that through support and accountability measured the provinces improved. DBE tried to use the data to embark on interventions in a very targeted way that focused on challenges to under performance, whether it was availability of teachers or availability of infrastructure, to ensure that results improved. DBE was strengthening support to districts and provinces to ensure the targets were achieved throughout the country.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Soobrayan for the report.
Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) was interested in the Funza Lushaka bursaries. The target was 11 500, 11 715 bursaries were awarded. She understood the budget was around the target. When the target was exceeded, from where did the extra money come?
Mr Soobrayan explained that in some cases, some targets were linked to unit costs, in other cases not so much linked to unit costs. In cases such as training, in finance and economics there was a fixed unit cost and a variable marginal cost. Funza Lushaka was a fixed cost because it entailed X amount for a bursary. Money went to NSFAS; NSFAS made application to higher institutions and it depended on the uptake. Generally what happened was an amount of money was allocated to NSFAS that advised and encouraged and motivated people to take it up in the area of shortage subjects. They may not take up all of that, which was why the target was set in this particular way. If there was extra money, that money was rolled over for further years or it could be used to roll out additional programmes.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka referred to schools complying with a very basic level of school infrastructure. The target was 92%, which DBE indicated was over ambitious and the new baseline was 55%. What informed that initial 92%?
Mr Soobrayan agreed that it was not right to have targets that if they did not suit, then simply revised them downwards. The question was whether the target was realistic and what it was based on. In this case, looking at our knowledge of infrastructure now, to assume that by 2013 92% of the schools would have basic provision was overly optimistic. One of the reasons for that it was based on the database, National Education Infrastructure, that was populated by provinces. That database was extremely unreliable. If there were money, the contractors would have come to the party. Even if there were money it did not mean that the capacity of the State and the private sector, raw materials and so on, allowed delivery in that way. It was not just a matter of bringing the target down; it was based on engagement with the PICC. The DBE planned to build 50 schools in the Eastern Cape based on data, but found that there were no roads at all and the contractor could not get to the site. DBE had to wait for another department to build roads and to wait for electricity. The principle was that an indicator could not be determined at whim and it could not be revised downwards at whim, but in this case there was compelling motivation to revise it downwards. The credibility of indicators was held in high regard and the Presidency primarily through the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) was actively involved in ensuring that the indicators were kept. These reports also went to Cabinet and Cabinet monitored the indicators as well.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka noted that the target for training of teachers was exceeded and was interested to know how that affected the budget?
Mr Soobrayan clarified that that was very different to Funza Lushaka. With the training of teachers the same budget could be used, you go to a certain area where there were a few teachers in accounting and use X amount of money to train ten teachers. The same amount of money could be used to train 30 teachers. There was a difference between unit costs, marginal costs and bursary schemes. In training teachers, the same tutor was used to train whatever number.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka asked what happened to the money paid by pupils who lost books?
Mr Soobrayan said in theory that money was supposed to go back into the school funds. What schools did with that money had to be monitored by the province as well. If a school collected money for lost books and province supplied 100% books and the school did not need to use the money for books, it could use it for something else.
Ms Gina remarked that when DBE came with its quarterly reports they focused on DBE only without looking at the sector as a whole. She suggested an all-day meeting with all the provinces together with DBE because it was difficult to draw the line and they should not only focus on the DBE.
Ms Gina said there had been an outcry as the awarding of the Funza Lushaka bursaries was always late and the complaint was that DBE needed to sit down with Department of Higher Education and Training. When awards were only after July what was that saying to the recipients? There were dropouts even when it came to registration at universities and the blame was always on DBE and how it issued the bursaries. How could it be changed so that recipients received their money year-end, and value for money could be seen for those receiving the Funza Lushaka bursaries?
Mr Soobrayan admitted that awarding bursaries late was affecting the efficacy of universities in the NSFAS allocations. DBE worked with NSFAS and with universities and multiple partners to ensure it happened on time. It was a real problem that DBE addressed constantly; but things were getting better in terms of Funza Lushaka.
Ms Gina referred to the District Guide to monitor and support the schools where they performed. According to the presentation only 50% of schools said they received support and guidance from the district. It was always said that the district officers were the weakest link in the system. DBE was doing something but was not reaching the stage where the district officers were. She saw a huge problem there.
Mr Soobrayan said that was what led DBE to believe that when it asked provinces for data it could not rely on that data, it was based on what schools told the department. Mr Soobrayan had learnt that they could not be relied on, and could not even rely on districts. It was bad and DBE was dealing with it by ensuring that the right people were appointed. When it came to infrastructure DBE received very little accountability from district officials; they submitted incorrect information without any fear of the consequences.
Mr Soobrayan said DBE’s focus was where schools were functioning, not to give them the same support as it would to schools that were not functioning. DBE was doing a lot of work to ensure that districts were capacitated. It looked at the competency framework, what it took to be appointed as a curriculum advisor, as a district official, or as a circuit official. DBE was looking at performance management but key was the appointment of those people. If the right persons were not appointed according to competency framework, or there was no performance management, there would be people who were not performing.
Ms Gina raised serious concern about schools working long hours because they did not perform well in the matric results. Some schools started at 7am till 4.30pm every day including Saturdays. She had not seen DBE intervening. Learners and teachers needed time to relax. She could not see any benefit from being so pressurised. During oversight visits, teachers said instead of improving results they were dropping.
Mr Soobrayan said one of the challenges was the more there were extra classes, the more teachers were reluctant to teach in the periods they were supposed to teach. 1) they were tired, and 2) the attitude was they could do it on Saturday. The MEC then said if it was seven hours, they must work for those seven hours. It was a matter DBE was addressing on how it could support teachers. The major intervention was curriculum coverage in the time they were teaching.
Ms Gina asked for clarification on the slide about demographics and absolute numbers for matric pass.
Mr Soobrayan said, for example, they need 100 000 people to pass the National Senior Certificate, to access studies for a bachelor degree. For the next year it was expected to be 110 000. That assumed that either the number of candidates in Grade 12 remained the same or increased. In this instance the number of candidates went down, not because of dropouts. It was because there were fewer learners in the system because of a lower birth rate and the age of admission twelve years before, and because of that the absolute number had shrunk. Therefore to set a target of 110 000 meant not only setting a higher number but also a much higher percentage. The percentage pass rate increased but the absolute number was below target. It looked like under-performance but exceeded the target from a percentage point of view. That target was set on the assumption that the learner population would either stay the same or grow. To revise that indicator DBE was approached by the Presidency and it was an injunction from them that the target was revised, and it also went to Cabinet.
Ms Gina understood that the DBE did a lot when it came to e-Education but suggested DBE come back and expand on that in another meeting so that Members could get a clear picture in terms of e-Education.
Mr Mweli responded that the sector had been focusing on four areas in terms of e-Education:
- e-Content and Development, the interactive workbooks; DBE was making progress in that respect.
- Hardware rollout, the provision of computers and laptops. Not much progress had been made there.
- Connectivity. Provinces were moving, some were close to 100% connectivity and some lagged behind.
- Teacher professional development. Tremendous progress was made with this; the difficulty was application of skills acquired from training.
DBE was reviewing the implementation plan. Mr Mweli suggested that a written report be submitted on this issue, to which the Chairperson agreed.
Ms Gina noted that access to library services was at 50%, having looked at schools she was not happy with that figure. She felt that libraries could also have an impact on the culture of returning books and respect for the way in which the books were handled.
Mr Mweli agreed, DBE needed to do more. The figure of 51% was from a survey conducted in 2011, and that survey did not include the definition given by Ms Mushwana. The world had moved away from a library being four walls filled with books. There were many varied ways of providing library and information services, one of which was mobile libraries that was introduced in this country, another was corner libraries that were highly recommended worldwide for primary schools, because part of learning activities in primary classes involved a lot of reading and therefore it was better to manage library activities within a class as compared to a building that was aloof from the learners. DBE had developed a plan and a strategy at roughly R700 million. The DG had instructed it be finalised and given to him to put in a bid to Treasury. To bring the system up to speed, DBE needed that R700 million, which could be broken down to three or five years.
The Chairperson asked why not have corner libraries for high schools?
Mr Mweli said that might escalate the cost. It was because of the nature of primary schools in terms of engaging with reading and writing.
Ms Gina was interested in monies given to unions for teacher development, how did DBE monitor that? It involved huge amounts of money but the training was not happening the way it should. Was DBE satisfied in terms of value for money?
Mr Soobrayan agreed that this was a very important partnership, and in the case of unions it was new. In the case of certain regions, it was even newer. It was also very variable across the system and a key way to professionalise unions. DBE worked very strongly with unions and wanted to see the materials and to approve these. DBE set the competency frameworks for the training and the parameters for that training and sent out monitors (provincial officials) who monitored. DBE required documentary confirmation that the training took place and also that it be quality assured. DBE supported this training because where it was working, it was working very well and the potential for it to work was excellent.
Mr K Dikobo (AZAPO) asked for more information on the National Teaching Awards (NTA). He linked that with the SASCE and school league in sport. In terms of the NTA he was very unhappy about participation by schools, what was being done to ensure improved participation in National Teaching Awards?
Ms Ndebele responded that invitations were sent out widely, especially for SASCE. Participation was based on the willingness of the school to participate in SASCE. In the school leagues, DBE had actual registration but was asked to drop the registration to encourage wider participation.
Mr Soobrayan agreed as far as the NTA was concerned, DBE put it out to schools to participate, it was up to them whether they participated or not. DBE was encouraging this more aggressively.
Mr Dikobo referred to the number of subject advisors orientated towards CAPS, linked with the quality of orientation workshops. Having achieved the number, was DBE happy with the quality of orientation training?
Mr Mweli responded that the anecdotal evidence DBE was getting was that the CAPS orientation was good. That came from teachers and subject advisors. Mr Mweli had engaged with teachers in the North West on the implementation of CAPS. The majority of teachers welcomed the orientation and the majority of teachers and subject advisors were saying the reason why the Grade 1 to 3 ANA results improved in 2012 was because the curriculum was specified, and because the training had taken place more or less as expected. DPME and the DBE planned a survey on the implementation of CAPS.
Mr Dikobo was interested in the number of schools having access to libraries; were the libraries going to the most rural schools?
Mr Dikobo referred to Whole School Evaluation (WSE). The target was 645; achievement was 385. That was too low. Limpopo 0, Eastern Cape 0. In the matric pass Eastern Cape was No. 9, Limpopo No. 8. Surely DBE should be starting where there was the greatest need? He would have expected most of the schools to be in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. Limpopo was under administration, but those were also the most rural provinces. He had heard of officials that were kicked out when they went to schools in Limpopo because they did not make appointments. What did DBE do to teachers that kicked Department officials out; surely such conduct was not acceptable?
Mr Soobrayan agreed. If there were to be an impact on the system throughout, and an impact on Limpopo and the Eastern Cape that were clearly way below their potential, it would make a big difference. The Eastern Cape performed very high in ANA but their performance was very low in NSC. Clearly they focused on certain things. There was a long period where those schools did not receive the attention they ought to. DBE was trying but only had a handful of officials.
The issue about officials not being allowed into schools, that was very often confronted in under performing schools. Performing schools were not a problem as there was no need to go into those schools. That was a challenge to be dealt with in 2014 because government has become more assertive about going into schools, which was why this reaction was emerging.
Mr Dikobo was concerned that when targets were not reached they were simply reduced.
Dr A Lovemore (DA) raised concerns on the percentage of schools that were funded at the minimum level. Limpopo had the problem of some of their schools being funded at the level of R40 per learner, as opposed to R1010 per learner as set out in the norms and standards. The result was that many schools had their electricity disconnected, were unable to buy paper and so on. It appeared that directly linked to that was the delay in the mid-term assessment for Grade 12, which was scheduled to start on the 7th instead of the 3rd. Members were told by many school principals in Limpopo that the situation was absolutely chaotic. There was no money, no paper, and no electricity. It was understood that the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) had stopped the examinations until such time as funding was paid. She requested further information on that.
Mr Soobrayan responded that because of the funding problems in Limpopo that gave rise to Section 100(1)(b), transfers to schools for national norms and standards in school funding were not effected in 2011/12 and part of 2012/13. In the current financial year, the Provincial Education Department needed a significant increase in funding for national norms and standards in school funding. He thought the figure was R1.2 billion, part of which must be used for textbook procurement and also in part for non textbook, non personnel, allocations made to schools for their use. The Provincial Education Department was ready to transfer that amount to schools. The shortfall on what was actually normal was slight and the PED was ready to make the allocation. However, the Provincial Treasury had introduced a new system in terms of its financial management system and because of that problem, the transfers could not be effected. They were working over the weekend, working with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to make those payments. The money was with the PED, the allocations were made on paper, but the problem was the system that allowed payment to be effected. It had been extremely bad, but it was getting progressively better. Now it was significantly improved and only marginally below what the optimal required level was, but the problem had been in actually effecting the payment. Dr Lovemore had raised an important point in using the word 'chaotic'. It was a complex system; if one thing fell out of kilter it affected a whole lot of other things. A chain of events caused problems with the result being a situation like this.
Dr Lovemore was astounded that DBE did not know the number of schools linked to a library. If district officers were in touch with their schools they would know how many schools had access to library services. There was a figure for 2011 of schools complying with the minimum standard or basic norms of infrastructure, but there were no gazetted basic norms for infrastructure. Against what norms were that measured?
Mr Padayachee said the norm was a document called Guideline for Planning for School Infrastructure that contained specifications against which were measured what would be a school having facilities or lacking facilities. 55% would be in terms of the school monitoring surveys that would indicate whether the school met the minimum or more work had to be done in providing facilities. If there was a norm that came in, it would probably be the Guidelines adopted as a norms and standards.
Dr Lovemore referred to teacher provisioning. She was astounded that DBE was using forms to profile 26 000 teachers, to establish what qualifications the teachers had. She was particularly concerned that in the presentation last week on teacher supply and demand, the Committee was told that the estimated attrition rate was in the region of 3.4% and in 2011/12 14 988 teachers left the profession. If as stated 1 937 new young teachers were coming in as opposed to 14 988 going out, how would the two ever match up? Was the country ending up with a very quickly declining teacher population?
Mr Soobrayan reminded Dr Lovemore that it was 1 200 per quarter.
Dr Lovemore apologised, it was 1200 appointed per quarter; annual appointments were in the region of 6000, and attrition was 15 000; so there was still a major shortfall.
Mr Soobrayan proposed in order to give accurate figures to respond in writing. 8 227 teachers joined the profession under 30 years of age. The big issue was to balance attrition with intake.
Dr Lovemore commented that last week the Committee was told that 91% Funza Lushaka bursars were placed last year, the slide in the presentation said 84%.
Dr Lovemore noted reference to children who had access to formal Grade R. The achievement was good but the measurement was done via household survey. She was not aware that there was a formal Grade R. There was no Grade R curriculum or a Grade R teacher. What was formal Grade R?
Mr Mweli clarified that formal Grade R was Grade R offered at public schools and independent schools. There was a curriculum for that, which was part of the National Curriculum Statement. DBE also introduced a curriculum framework for 0 to 4 year olds.
Dr Lovemore referred to the statement ‘Our recommendations respond to the recommendations contained in the National Development Plan’. One of the recommendations in the NDP was a hands-off approach for those schools that were functioning well. So the district officials did not have to be as involved with those schools that were functioning well. That was accepted by the DBE but Members did not get an indication of what was being put across by district officers. She realised it was a report on what had happened in the past but it talked to interventions. She would like to know whether, going forward, we had in our district approaches a differentiated approach in order to have a hands-off approach for high performing schools and a really hands-on approach for poorly performing schools. Was DBE working towards that and, if so, how far was it in achieving that?
Mr Soobrayan responded that the approach was a differentiated approach. DBE was using evidence on performance and functionality and would target those schools that were under performing and have a different approach for schools that were performing.
Mr D Smiles (DA) referred to teacher development in the sector and asked what was the expenditure on What’s Up Teach (WET), and the distribution of it; and also expenditure on other key developments, the National Teaching Campaign, and the Stop Rape campaign.
Mr Soobrayan said he did not have those figures, a written response would be submitted.
Mr Smiles referred to Programme 2: Curriculum Delivery. DBE was doing well with the targets. He supported his colleagues about setting the targets. Having reached the targets, the quality must be moved to provinces. What was DBE doing as a coordinating and monitoring body. What was DBE doing about the provinces that did not achieve in terms of learner performance and quality education?
Mr Mweli responded that improving quality was an ongoing journey. The overall performance of completion rate at high school level was good and comparable internationally with the United Kingdom and close to Japan. But when it came to quality that was an area that needed improvement. There was improvement at the higher end of the system but the lower end of the system needed improvement. In engaging with district officials, this year the emphasis was around quality but also ensuring excellence.
Mr Smiles said learners and teachers always went together. In terms of the number of qualified teachers the target was 6 800, the achievement 8 227, a positive variance of 1 427. The real question was what was needed, against what was that measured? The need was for more teachers, especially for mathematics and science, and there was under expenditure for that.
Mr Soobrayan responded that 8 227 teachers entered the profession. Some were supplied but not employed. If they were employed they would be the right ones because they were employed according to a vacancy. However, if all the posts that DBE needed teachers for were being filled, the answer was no. In provinces there were excess educators, such as Limpopo. Limpopo had teachers that were looking for jobs that they could not employ because they were not the right teachers for the job. In his view it was not so much the issue of supply overall, it was supply of mathematics and science teachers. The big problem was excess educators that had to be managed, and the big problem was the bulge of the 40 to 49 year olds. If nothing was done about it, in about ten years time that bulge was going to hit hard and would continue to do so for about ten years. DBE was working with provinces and the idea was to introduce a system where teachers, especially those that were not in shortage subjects, would be asked to consider taking early retirement to create vacancies. They could take early retirement at an early age so that the DBE could begin to put people into those vacancies to have a better spread. The 50 to 60 bulge must be eliminated and replaced with a 20 to 30 bulge. It was a very complex issue and he committed to respond in writing.
In terms of that strategy DBE would need compliance by provinces, compliance by unions, and would need to ensure that if it were made available, that provinces did not let the wrong teachers go. If that happened the system would sit with another bulge of wrong teachers. It was a very complex exercise and would have to be done very carefully to not let the wrong teachers go, and with a system of about 400 000 individuals that was not easy to check.
Dr Lovemore asked for clarification. She did not understand when the Director General said he was getting rid of the 40 to 49 bulge to early retirement. How he would even out the age profile because there were not enough new teachers coming into the system. From where would the younger teachers come?
Mr Soobrayan explained that figures given were teachers who entered the system, not supply of teachers. More teachers were available to teach than those that were actually employed, and the reason for that was provinces were trying to manage their salaries, they were sitting with excess teachers that were consuming the money. Even though they were carrying vacancies, they were not absorbing the full number of teachers. DBE could run through absorbing those and further training but it was a complex issue. It was not just employing numbers, the right teachers had to be employed. One of the key issues in the system currently was compromising quality, there were teachers in classrooms that were not the best qualified to teach that class. Foundation phase was highly specialised.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) would have liked DBE to use simpler language. On the National Schools Nutrition Programme, did DBE have national guidelines in terms of securing service providers and issuing of tenders? In KwaZulu-Natal, service providers took the provincial department to court over the issue of tenders. Were there national guidelines?
Ms Ndebele responded that processes of government applied, in addition to conditions in the Division of Revenue Act. The issue that Mr Mpontshane raised would be investigated.
Mr Mpontshane said some assessment instruments were introduced by DBE to monitor late arrival and so on, but teachers rejected that instrument because 'it had not gone through the chamber'. He asked, if every issue had to go through the chamber. What was DBE’s support to provinces when faced with that?
Mr Soobrayan said that was illegal. It depended on how assertive the DBE was going to be. Some provinces had become very assertive and said it was the responsibility of government to do that and the teacher had to subject his or herself to that. The question should ideally go to the ELRC; the issues of teacher accountability and so forth were already there. Responsibility of the school had to be monitored. It was about ensuring that government was much more assertive when it came to monitoring schools.
Mr Mpontshane said if there were three categories of admission: admission to higher education studies; admission to diploma studies, admission to bachelor studies. For those studies, the improvement was: higher education 9 352, diploma 3 257, and bachelor 1 204. He asked what was the passing percentage in each category?
Mr Padayachee clarified that in each of the three categories all learners had to pass their home language with 40%, irrespective of what they did in the other requirements. For the certificate a learner was required to get 40% in three subjects and 30% in three other subjects, and if the home language was different from the institution the learner attended, he or she would have to pass that as a second language at 30%. For the diploma the learner would need to pass four subjects at 40% and another two at 30% or better. A diploma would allow the learner to go to a University of Technology. For a bachelor the learner needed four subjects at 50%, which did not guarantee entrance as universities had their own criteria, and also pass another two subjects at a minimum of 30% or better.
Mr Mpontshane was concerned about school libraries. There were norms and standards for school infrastructure. NGOs added their input and the norms and standards were being revised. When were they due for publication?
Mr Padayachee responded that the public comment process had closed, the consultation with NEDLAC had been completed. However, in terms of assessment of the comments and inputs that were made, the stakeholders that commented rejected the draft that was put out for public comment. There was discussion in DBE and it was agreed to request the complainant that took the sector to court to ask for an extension, that was declined and they were considering going back to litigation. DBE was consulting its lawyers.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) understood that finances informed targets; what were the implications on the budget when targets were exceeded?
Ms Mushwana understood that some circuits now had fewer subject advisors because instead of being confined to a circuit they were serving the whole region. She asked for assurance that subject advisors were available in all learning areas.
Mr Soobrayan said that was true, DBE still had that problem, and the large proportion of underperforming schools had a greater problem in terms of numbers. One of the reasons why the approach was to improve the performance of the system was a district based approach, getting the capacity of districts right, getting the capacity to support schools right, and getting school provisioning right, and getting school leadership and teaching right.
Ms Mushwana said the concern of the aging factor of educators was linked to training and preparation for replacement. If teachers were trained according to the needs of the country there should not be a problem. Universities and colleges were expensive and beyond the means of some people. Learners should be trained in some skill so that by the time they left school they were employable.
Mr Mweli responded by saying what the Minister and the DG usually said, that basic education provided basic knowledge and skills for learners to continue with training in different areas, but to be able to demonstrate the basic skills that were provided. The objectives of the curriculum seemed to indicate that the requisite knowledge and skills were embedded in the curriculum and, in the main, learners who emerged from the system had those skills. But those learners were not necessarily ready for the job market. The basic education system provided only basic skills.
The Chairperson was looking at work readiness. Sometimes learners went to Grade 12 but would not like, or be able, to go to university. Was there anything in between that DBE was doing to prepare them for the job market?
Mr Mweli said currently DBE was strengthening provisioning of technical education. In 2008 that changed from eight specialised areas to four. A ministerial task team was working on that, but apart from that Schools of Skills, that were in the main special schools, DBE was looking at recognising the kind of learning that was happening, that would provide basic skills such as hairdressing, and so on, that would afford some of the learners to progress to earn a living.
Ms Mushwana believed every school should have a library. It need not necessarily be a building; it could be a corner in a classroom.
Mr Soobrayan said the figure given was based on a very low baseline. DBE was not talking of a physical room, it was talking about making available library and information services in order to create a text reading environment through a number of mechanisms, focusing on poor schools in rural areas. In a Foundation Phase each class should have with it 30 readers of different titles for a class of about 30 learners.
Mr N Kganyago (UDM) stressed the importance of correcting errors timeously. The report on Kha Ri Gude needed correction or learners would always spell forty incorrectly.
Mr Mweli said Mr Kganyago was right and that would be corrected.
Mr Kganyago lived opposite an FET College, where the students were engaged in a violent strike. The message was that they needed practical training. He asked how far was the issue of practical training for Soshibo High School?
The Chairperson suggested a letter.
Mr Mweli said he and Mr Padayachee would deal with that and come back to Mr Kganyago.
Mr Smiles referred to teachers for special needs in education. What was the need and what was the current situation?
Mr Mweli responded that the Teacher Development Programme for this financial year prioritised providing skills in terms of sign language and Braille, from a teacher development point of view. In terms of general support provided to learners, since 2006 the DBE in conjunction with National Treasury introduced earmarked funds called Strengthening of Special Schools to provide a range of assistive devices to learners in our schools over and above Braille. The challenge was provinces took advantage of that in different ways. Some provinces utilised the money correctly and some did not. DBE continued to encourage them to support learners with special education needs with assistive devices required for learning to take place.
Mr Smiles appreciated what was being done about Braille, but sight was not the only learning barrier. There was a serious shortage of resources and assistive devices for other learning barriers. He asked what DBE was doing about this, and how DBE motivated provinces to do their part?
The Chairperson thanked Mr Soobrayan. She would like a further report back on the bulge. She was concerned about the response to the reduced target when it was said that data received affected the baseline figures. That meant that provinces had problems when it came to their baseline figures. She was anxious to see what DBE would do to ensure figures were more reliable; going through Cabinet there must be reliable data. DBE’s planning, information and assessment budget was under spent by just over R1 billion. She was concerned that with that incorrect baseline, R90 million underspent came from other programmes. R90 million was a lot and people on the ground did not understand what it was for and would think it could have built another school.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka raised a concern about offering teachers early retirement. Did DBE realise that when one took early retirement, it affected the pension. Was DBE considering a package to encourage them to leave the system?
Mr Soobrayan clarified that DBE had not yet started that process, it was merely thinking about options and that was one of the options. If that were done DBE would take the pension issue into account, and take into account shortages of subjects so there would not be teachers with scarce subjects taking the package. There was currently a system of early retirement offered across the public service. He emphasised it was not policy at this point.
The Chairperson added that teachers who previously took early retirement were back in the system.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka referred to infrastructure where there were no roads to the schools. How were the Department officials visiting the schools if there were no roads?
Mr Soobrayan replied that he did not think they were being visited, which was a problem. It was not just about rehabilitating the school; it was about access. DBE was identifying schools with dire needs – those with no roads, no bridge to cross the river. The plan was to bring in the Department of Defence to assist with bridges. Some were very small schools that should not be existing and the question had to be asked whether the school was justified in that area.
Ms Gina referred to filling of critical vacant posts. She did not see why people should be acting for long periods of time; it should be not longer than three to six months.
Mr Soobrayan indicated that all DDG positions were filled except one. The post had been advertised, all candidates had been interviewed but not any of the candidates was found to be suitable for the position. At that time Mr Mweli was employed in the Eastern Cape as part of DBE’s intervention team. When he was transferred to National, the Minister transferred him to this position because he was able to deal with it. Mr Mweli did not apply for that post. It was a priority for the Minister to fill that position and positions below, such as Chief Directors.
Ms Gina referred to the School Capacity and Innovation Programme (SCIP), it was a good programme but there was no mention of that.
Mr Soobrayan was embarrassed to say he did not know what that programme was.
The Chairperson requested that he respond in writing.
Mr Dikobo said Mr Mweli misunderstood the thrust of his question on school libraries. He wanted to know where they were – rural or urban?
Dr Lovemore went back to the forms to profile 26 000 teachers, which she thought was archaic. There must be a better way.
Mr Soobrayan explained there were about 400 000 individuals that had to be profiled. Interviews would take time and money. DBE also used its payroll system to cross-check that information.
Mr Smiles asked for clarity, where did DBE start and where was it now with making plans to improve quality. He was not convinced that the interventions responded to the recommendations of the National Development Plan, because if that were so he would like to have heard what DBE was doing about NEEDU. There needed to be a shift of mind, of money, of everything towards Foundation Phase , and there was no evidence of that. He suggested DBE come back on that statement that DBE’s interventions responded to the recommendations contained in the National Development Plan, and explain in what sense they responded to the NDP.
Mr Soobrayan confirmed that the concluding sentence of the presentation was correct; DBE was informed by the NDP. When the NDP was developed it was developed in conjunction with the DBE and flowed largely from the Action Plan 2014. Some issues in the NDP were not immediately apparent in the Action Plan 2014, such as appointment of principals, appointment of senior officials, visiting each school and offering support. One of DBE’s primary interventions now was to support dysfunctional schools, and quick profiling of what schools lacked, which was extremely important at this point. DBE was looking at the mentorship programme for principals to support them in their delivery. The approach to the NDP was the recommendation that came from the Commission to engage, interpret, and operationalise that recommendation and see how it could work. That was done in conversation with the Planning Commission and Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. The focus was on the Foundation Phase but in the schooling system one could not shift to one phase at the expense of others.
Mr Mpontshane asked what aspect of the draft norms and standards were there objections? He asked if the Committee could be provided with that document.
Mr Soobrayan committed to providing a summary in writing.
Mr Kganyago asked for clarity if a learner was not making the grade in terms of marks and did not have basic skills because his marks were improvised – what did that mean?
The Chairperson said it was agreed that Mr Kganyago would receive a letter in that regard.
The Chairperson concluded that any unanswered questions would be responded to in writing.
The Committee would still be engaging with DBE:
- The meeting with the DBE and provinces was very important
- A briefing on the Early Childhood Development Plan for clarity.
- The Committee should also be more informed as to whether our learners were trained to be marketable.
- If DBE would like to share the implementation plan for libraries, that could be slotted in somewhere.
- Whether extra classes should be allowed, children did not have time to rest.
- e-Education must also be fitted in somewhere.
- The number of subject advisors
- Funza Lushaka bursaries would have to be discussed. The Chairperson thought there was a genuine problem if the students were only receiving bursaries in July. The Committee was meeting with Higher Education next week and that would come in there. It was understood that students paid for registration out of their own pockets.
The Chairperson asked DBE to prepare themselves on that. The Chairperson thanked DBE for the very comprehensive report. Members were satisfied with responses to questions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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