South African Council of Educators Strategic and Annual Performance Plans 2013

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

12 June 2013
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a briefing from the South African Council of Educators (SACE) on its Annual Performance Plan for 2013. The discussion and focus was on the developmental role of the Council in relation to the teachers and learners.

The Council gave an overview of its role with regard to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework projections, the registration of teachers, professional development, ethical standards and research, policy and planning. The Committee was then briefed by each departmental head. They outlined the roles and plans of their respective departments. The monthly subscription fees of teachers increased to R10 and was the main source of income for the Council and accounted for more than R50 million per year. The Council had decided to buy the building instead of continuing to rent it. Although the contract was negotiated until 2016 the clause provided that the Council could purchase the building before 2016 without any penalty.
The registration of teachers was done on two databases. The key functions of the registration process were to maintain credibility of the database and to keep an up to date record of all the teachers as well as the maintenance of minimum requirements and standards. There had been 28 000 new entrants to the profession.
The Professional Code of Ethics was based on three points: to uphold the functions of profession; to investigate complaints such as corporal punishment and sexual cases; and to institute disciplinary hearings. Besides those functions the Council was trying to tackle the problem of parents being bribed by perpetrators not to report cases.
The professional development plan involved the principals, deputy principals, heads of departments and teachers. It was divided into three cohorts and consisted of the monitoring and evaluation process as well as tools for verification purposes. The research, policy and planning was initiated to develop a fully fledged unit to deliver the advisory mandate satisfactorily. 
Members raised concerns about the selling of the building for less than what it was purchased for and the lack of visibility of the Council in rural areas and provinces. Concerns were also expressed with regard to teenage pregnancies and teachers being the perpetrators of such actions. The perpetrators would bribe parents and slow the process of acting against them. Other concerns related to the quality of teaching and the difference in the amounts reflected in the MTEF projections of each year.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed the delegates from the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and Committee members. She acknowledged three apologies from absent Committee members.

Briefing by South African Council for Educators (SACE)
Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SACE, said that the Department had undertaken to improve its role in relation to teachers with the advice of the Committee. He described his role as dual as he acted in the capacity as both a councillor and the CEO of SACE. He said that SACE consisted of a thirty member Council which had been appointed by the Minister of Basic Education.
The task was threefold, namely: the registration of each teacher; providing teachers with the licence to teach; and being responsible for the professional development of teachers. The Council was therefore vigilant to the development of teachers. The Council had a code of ethics as well as review and implementation policies in place to deal with teachers that were guilty of transgressions of abuse. SACE was also involved in research and advised the Minister with regard to issues of professionalism. Each teacher paid subscription fees of R10 per month which made provision for a budget of more than R50 million rand per year. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) had been helpful especially with providing accommodation free of charge and SACE was fortunate in that regard as it had not been the case previously. SACE had acquired its own rented building. He could guarantee the continuing role of SACE in the development of teachers as well as SACE sorting out its financial aspects.
With regard to partnerships it was in the mutual interest of both SACE and the DBE to work together especially with the ‘nitty gritty’ issues such as tenders and the framework of development. The relationship between the two at that point could be described as robust as it was not always smooth. Relations with the unions had been surprisingly good and SACE and unions were not pitted against each other. In fact in disciplinary hearing of union members it was usually the unions that would call for harsher action against their members than SACE would. The Provinces were growing in membership and more detail would be provided by the delegated member. One of the reasons why the Council did not have its own accommodation was the instruction from DBE for the Council to act sparingly. The Council did have sufficient funding to acquire a building and intended to do so in 2015. The Department had also assured the Council of funding.

Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Projections
Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), SACE, said that the MTEF Projections would change due to the commitment from the DBE for the subsidy contribution to SACE of R7.3 million. This amount could only be reflected on the books of SACE once it was received or the written commitment was received but until then the budget would reflect a zero amount. The monthly membership fees for teachers increased from R6 to R10 per month and the total brought in was in excess of R51 million that year. The contract for the rental of the newly rented premises was negotiated until the end of 2016 and increased from R950 000 in 2012 to R6.6 million in 2014. The building reserve fund which stood at R40 million in February 2013 was aimed at purchasing the building and SACE was on course to buy it at the end of 2015 for R59 million. The building in Visagie Street was sold on auction for R10.5 million and those funds would be transferred to the reserve fund. The reserve fund contributed to the interest received. SACE was therefore not far from reaching the target to buy the building. On purchasing the building the funds derived from rentals would be used to fund the operations of SACE.

Ms Magopel Maphile, Chairperson, SACE, said that the registration of teachers was done on two databases. Teachers that did not have the necessary teaching qualifications had to register conditionally and such registrations were renewable. The other registrations applied to teachers that satisfied all the necessary qualifications. The key functions of the registration process were to maintain credibility of the database and to keep an up to date record of all the teachers as well as the maintenance of minimum requirements and standards. There had been 28 000 new entrants to the profession.

Ethical Standards
The Professional Code of Ethics was based on three points: to uphold the functions of profession; to investigate complaints such as corporal punishment and sexual cases; and to institute disciplinary hearings. Besides those functions the Council also embarked on a strategy to inform parents of their right to report cases. Parents should not be allowed to be bribed by perpetrators. Also cases were delayed by those processes where perpetrators were allowed to interfere. The question was how the Council could find the necessary means to assist and streamline cases. 

Professional Development
Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager: Professional Development and Research, SACE, said the purpose of her portfolio was to develop the SACE concept document. That document sought to make the presence of the Council known in the provinces. The Council embarked on a drive to recruit nine retired educators to coordinate the Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) system at provincial level in collaboration with the Provincial Educators Department. The Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) was based on three year planning of the professional development as well as the recording, reflection and reporting of the participation in professional development and activities of educators. The portfolio system was to be tested in the sign-up workshop with 40 747 principals and deputy principals as the first cohort. This had to span over a three year period. The second cohort would involve the 55 032 heads of departments (HOD’s) for the next six years. The third cohort would involve the 342 680 teachers.
The CPTD orientation and sign-up process would take place electronically by way of the CPTD information system and manually through the forms. From January to December 2013 the sign-up would apply for the 40 747 principals and deputy principals and 25 000 schools. SACE had signed up 1476 principals in March 2013 and would sign up others when it visited the various provinces. In 2017 the first cohort 150 points would fall away as the first year of the second new three year cycle would have started.  The CPTD monitoring would apply to the sign-up process, participation, professional development uptake, quality and provider capacity. The tools to be used for purposes of verification were the CPTD information reports, school visits, samples, site visits and feedback from educators.

Research, Policy and Planning     
The two policy positions that were undertaken by the Department to inform the Minister of Basic Education centred firstly on internal teacher migration and secondly around the needs of principals and deputy principals.

Four research projects were being run, which focused on the attitudes of principals and deputy principals on professional development; the state of the teaching profession; the activities of principals and deputy principal activities; and programs to determine the value they attached to different professional development activities and programs.

The SACE Professional magazine was published twice a year and publications for dissemination of policy and research were also produced.

The Chairperson opened the floor for discussions of the SACE presentation.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) questioned why SACE was not visible. She said that she was also a teacher and her money was also deducted for membership fees but SACE was not known especially in the rural areas. For her a good starting point with the code of ethics was to start with teaching parents. If nobody performed the task of monitoring then it would mean that the acts of unethical behaviour would persist. The unions and the Department of Education were at loggerheads but SACE had been very quiet.  

Ms R Rasmani (ANC, North West) asked how SACE assisted with the registration of teachers. Did it provide teachers with the valid accreditation? As far as ethics was concerned teenage pregnancies were on the rise and in some instances the teachers were the perpetrators. What was SACE doing in those instances and what were the challenges?
Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) said that SACE received money from the DBE and should as a result report to the Department and to the Committee. He asked why the MTEF projection amounts were different for each year. For example the amount for the entity receipts for 2012/13 was R65 252 but in 2013/14 the amount was reflected as R55 090. There was also a difference in the amounts pertaining to the admin fees for the 2012/13 and 2013/14. It was known that there was a problem with learners in the foundation phase. What were the reasons for the teachers not being able to teach? If there were no improvements in that area then the Department would ultimately have a huge problem. What were the responsibilities of the Department in that regard? By what percentage did the rent increase each year and who were the owners of the building? It was concerning that the building was sold for less than it was bought for. 

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) wanted to know what would happen to the 2015/16 rental contact should the building be bought in 2015. The reason for teaching being below standard was related to the quality and image problems. Teachers arriving late to school was also a huge problem.

Mr S Plaatjies (COPE, North West) referred to the number of teachers and how it could impact on the moral impasse of learners. The fees of teachers accounted for 90% of the revenue of SACE. The Department however also gave an amount for the SACE and wanted to know how it assisted the teachers discharged of their functions. Which of the cases topped the agenda at SACE?

The Chairperson asked for clarification around the issue of the rental agreement. She was confused as the building was to be purchased in 2015 but the agreement was until 2016. What were the legal implications of that? The Code of Ethics referred to three issues but what happened to teachers who used fraudulent qualifications?  

Mr Mapindani said he understood the confusion that arose from the purchasing of the building. He claimed that there was public outcry in 2009 to sell the building in Visagie Street. The building had been on the market since then. SACE took a decision to rent a building with the view to purchase. The building that they rented since last year was negotiated with the option to purchase. The contract was from July 2012 till June 2016 with the proviso to buy for R59 million before 2016 without any penalty. The building in Visagie Street was subsequently sold for R10.5 million on auction. At the end of December 2015 SACE would be in the position to purchase the building which they presently rented. The size of the grant was not enough to secure the purchase. SACE was unable to spend the funding it received the year before. That year the amount was R7.3 million and was sufficient for the shortfall to purchase the building. The reason why the amounts for the receipts were different in the MTEF projections for each year was because the money that DBE promised could only be reflected on the books once it was received or a written guarantee would be provided which had not yet happened.

Ms Maphile said that those teachers who were not fully qualified were problematic for SACE as their contacts had to be renewed. SACE had to validate their qualifications with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) especially foreigners. SACE also encountered problems quite often with fraudulent qualifications. This was due to colleges merging with universities and those affected teachers not writing the necessary supplementary examinations. In the case of extreme fraudulent cases though, the intervention of the police would be sought. Teachers not being on time was an issue that affected the employer/employee relationship and could be resolved with renewed partnerships. SACE would look at those teachers who needed assistance and how it could be of assistance. As far as teen pregnancies were concerned SACE was not involved in that aspect. However, SACE was concerned about sexual abuse, the increase in abortions and unprotected sex. It would increase in its efforts to educate learners in that regard. It was involved in letting teachers understand how to keep their cool and classroom management. Teachers viewed SACE as the ‘sjambok’, which had to change. SACE followed the approach that it was their Council and based interaction on engagement with educators rather than the hard-handed approach. There was still a lot of ignorance on the part of educators but engagement and assistance seemed to be working.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Professional Development Manager, SACE, replied that SACEs role was based on the needs of the educators. The educator should be placed in the position to choose from the various items SACE could provide. That year the role out would be expanded to all the provinces and the following year that role would be even greater. 

Ms Tsedi Dipholo, Chief Operating Officer, SACE, said that SACE was now more visible than ever before just by looking at the amount of cases reported. The teachers fees were in most part responsible for the operation of the Department. The remuneration of teachers was however not part of SACEs mandate.

Mr Haroon Mahomed, Director, DBE, said that the role of SACE was to ensure quality. The fact that it serviced 120 centers placed it under pressure.

Mr Brijrat said that he acknowledged that the performance of the Department was not satisfactorily. There was outreach to the unions in that regard even though he realised a lot more needed to be done. There was a shift to remodel the modus operandi of the Department more in line with what was happening in the schools. It had taken the better part of the past ten years for the Department to find itself. It was the first time since 2000 that the country had experienced something such as SACE. It was a steep learning curve and was necessary for SACE to develop to its current form. It was also surprised by the outcomes of working with unions. Having union members in the Council had presented no difficulty to Council. In fact it could be reported that it was the union that would give the harshest sentences to their members. The Council at the same time gave all the necessary assistance to the unions. If teachers however behaved unprofessionally it became the prerogative of SACE to remedy the situation.

Mr Mapidani asked what tools the Department had to use in instances where teachers had to go to ‘court’. The instance of going to court would amount to accountability whereas not going called for intervention. Furthermore, he asked about the upscaling of teacher support.

Ms Rantho said that the rented building would be purchased for R59 million but the building in Visagie Street would only be sold for R10.5 million. The plan was problematic. She asked if SAPS was involved in the cases that were under investigation by the Council. Did the Council have a record of those teachers that were suspended as well as the periods of such suspensions? It was also of importance to involve the other stakeholders.

Ms Rasmeni said that the Committee needed a full report of all the cases that were dealt with by the Council and asked whether the Council had such a report.

Mr De Villiers (ANC) asked what the role of SACE was in relation to that of the Department of Education. The building was sold for R10.5 million but was bought for more than R12 million. If the building that was sold was vandalised where were the employees at the time? Why the loss in selling the building? How many staff members did SACE have in all? There were questions around disciplinary measures. It would make sense to decentralise in support of the Pretoria offices. What was the role of Council to professionalise the standard of teachers? It seemed that SACE was missing in action when it came to teaching development. How many of the staff working at Council were permanent and how many were temporary?

The Chairperson stated that SACE was not active in the Provinces and asked if they intended to address that problem as it was not accommodated for in the plan? How many of the members of the Council were full time?

Mr Briraj replied that the Council had 30 councillors. The CEO was the only full time employee whilst the others were volunteers. As far as the issue of suspension was concerned some were struck off permanently, others for a certain period, whilst some were suspended. The Council revolved every four years and the decisions of the former Council at times proved to be problematic. That was the case with regard to the building of the former Council and its decision had to be reviewed by the present Committee. The present view was that the building had to be bought. Each of the teachers had contracts with SACE when taking up membership. The Council insisted that each teacher signed the contract that would ensured they would abide by the Code of Ethics. The Council would furnish the Select Committee with the documentation relating to the strategic plan and all cases pending. The reason why the plan was not in the programme was as a direct result of the Council not having the written commitment from the DBE for the funds that had been promised. Those plans were however there and would be forwarded to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked why the building was sold for less than it was bought.

Mr Mapindani replied that the building was in a dilapidated state, with problems such as leaking roofs. The renovations for such repairs would have amounted to R49 million. After considering renovating the building the Council decided to rent with the view to buy and the building in Visagie Street to be sold. From 2009 the building was placed on the market. The Committee would be kept informed of further developments with regard to the buying of the present rented building. Currently the staff complement stood at 73 personnel. There was continuous growth especially with regard to moving into provinces.

The Chairperson replied that it was the Select Committee that had the responsibility to deal with all the provinces and not one specific department. Short cuts by the Council would not be tolerated and the Council would be called back to report to the Committee. The Council tabled a strategic plan that was not signed. The Committee would therefore call on the Council to have the strategic plan in place and signed when reporting to the Committee next time. It was the duty of the Select Committee to ensure that the public got value for the budget which the Committee intended to do. The Committee would call on the Council again. The Chairperson excused the delegates of SACE and the DBE.
The meeting did not proceed with the minutes as planned, as the Members present were not sufficient to form a quorum.                   


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